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Zoning commission approves north Bibb County shopping center

Zoning commissioners said Monday that they appreciated efforts to redesign a large shopping center planned for Bass Road.

In June, the Macon-Bibb County Planning & Zoning Commission had deferred voting on a conditional-use application to allow a power center at 1625 Bass Road and Starcadia Circle and a variance in parking and sign requirements. The project was deferred to allow the developer time to change the design based on recommendations by the commission.

Lennar Commercial Investments and Fickling & Co. plan to develop a 250,000-square-foot shopping center on about 38 acres, which includes all the property inside Starcadia Circle and some outparcels outside the circle. Although no tenants have been named, a movie theater is expected to be part of the center.

“We have really dressed up the buildings,” said land planner Zan Thompson with ZT3 Placemaker Studio. “Our feeling is our plan has added a lot of Main Street elements, which for a power center is hard to do.”

Power centers are large outdoor shopping malls, usually 250,000 square feet to 750,00 square feet, that often include three or more “big box” stores, as well as smaller retailers and restaurants, surrounded by a shared parking lot. They often have distinctive architectural features.

The new project design includes several changes to the site plan, including more landscaping, wider sidewalks, pedestrian plazas with benches and an outdoor dining area.

“Thank you for the time and effort you put into” the new plan, said Commissioner Jeane Easom. “It could very easily have been an eyesore. I like this much better.”

At the June 22 meeting, commission Chairman Kamal Azar said he would like to see the project redesigned so it didn’t look generic. He said the design was dated and the developer was trying to put too much on the property. The matter was deferred again at the July 27 meeting by the applicant.

Azar was more optimistic Monday

“I know it’s a tough site (to design),” he said. “We understand this is a power center ... but you came up with a hybrid. ... Hopefully it will make for a better experience. ... There is a lot of money involved for this not to be successful.”

Other items on the agenda were:

REZONINGS:

7658 Hawkinsville Road: Proposal to rezone from A-Agricultural District to M-1, Wholesale and Light Industrial District. The purpose of this rezoning is to allow custom laser engraving with custom grips and stocks for firearms. Donald Clough, applicant. Approved.

CONDITIONAL USES:

7658 Hawkinsville Road: Conditional use to allow laser engraving with custom grips and stocks for firearms, A-Agricultural District (M-1,Wholesale and Light Industrial District Pending). Donald Clough, applicant. Approved.

3200 Northside Drive: Conditional use to allow a church in an existing building, C-2 District. Kenneth Davis, applicant. Approved.

2822 Bloomfield Drive: Conditional use to allow a nightclub with alcohol consumed on premises, C-2 District. Yong Tedder, applicant. Denied.

2046 Felton Ave.: Conditional use to allow an after-school program in an existing building, R-2 District. Paul Kelley, Macon Educational Resource Learning Center, applicant. Approved.

6237 Zebulon Road: Conditional use to allow a restaurant with drive-thru, PDE District. Cleve Cunningham, applicant. Approved.

SIGNS:

265 Tom Hill Sr. Blvd: Variance in aggregate signage and area of a single sign, C-2 District. Columbus Signs & Lighting LLC., applicant. Approved.

INTERPRETATIONS:

408 Orange St.: Interpretation that apartments as they exist are a legal non-conforming use, HR-3 District. Ray Richard, Richard Property Investments LLC, applicant. Approved.

RATIFICATION:

2035 Felton Ave.: Conditional use to allow professional offices for a construction company, R-3 District (15-20860). David Danzie, applicant. Approved.

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223or find her on Twitternote>.

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