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Macon road closure OK’d as part of shopping center plan

The Macon-Bibb County Commission approved Tuesday the sale of a Wesleyan Drive property that would allow for a portion of the the street between Riverside Drive and New Forsyth Road to be closed.
The Macon-Bibb County Commission approved Tuesday the sale of a Wesleyan Drive property that would allow for a portion of the the street between Riverside Drive and New Forsyth Road to be closed. jvorhees@macon.com

A popular north Macon road used to avoid traffic will be closed if a new shopping development is built.

The Macon-Bibb County Commission voted Tuesday 5-4 to sell a piece of property along Wesleyan Drive that would allow a portion of the road to be permanently blocked from through traffic. A section of Wesleyan between New Forsyth Road and Riverside Drive would be blocked off for the proposed Riverside Centre.

Commissioners Gary Bechtel, Joe Allen, Bert Bivins and Scotty Shepherd voted against the sale.

The nearly 1-acre Wesleyan property will be sold to The Jones Co. for $141,700. Riverside Centre would feature a movie theater, retail space and more in a several hundred thousand square foot development. It would be located at 1771 Bass Road and New Forsyth Road.

“At this time, I can’t see the need to put additional traffic out there when we’re trying to bring people back to town,” Allen said.

Neighborhood resident Marion Discher opposed the closure because of safety and convenience.

“This is a road we prefer traveling ... to all different parts of Macon because it’s convenient,” she said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It also helps relieve traffic flow on Riverside.”

Even without the shopping center, the route would be impacted by a roundabout that will be installed at Bass Road, Arkwright Road and Riverside, said Jim Rollins, with real estate company The Summit Group.

“The reason for closing is to create a a safe entrance into the shopping center on Riverside Drive,” he said. “If not closed, it will be up to (Macon-Bibb) to make improvements to road deceleration lanes and widening the road. I’m not sure that part of Wesleyan Drive would be able to handle the traffic generated by the shopping center.”

Crazy Bull

A resolution that would have allowed a downtown booster agency to provide some funding to give to a popular bar was tabled Tuesday.

Commissioner Al Tillman made the motion to table the measure that would have allowed NewTown Macon to give an $800,000 loan to to the company that owns Crazy Bull.

The loan would come from a NewTown program that consists of bond funds issued by the Macon-Bibb County Urban Development Authority. The fund is regularly used for downtown businesses and development.

Roundabout

A letter of support for a traffic calming measure at the Seven Bridges intersection in south Bibb was approved Tuesday.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is examining installing a roundabout or making other road improvements around Ga. 247, which is the major artery connecting Macon with Robins Air Force Base. Other major roads around the intersection include Houston Road, Houston Avenue, Pio Nono Avenue and Broadway.

The resolution says the county will pay for landscaping costs if a roundabout is built. Macon-Bibb officials are also asking GDOT to further examine two types of roundabouts and another option.

Anti-discrimination

The commission approved 6-3 the second reading on an amendment to the county charter that adds sexual orientation and gender identity to an anti-discrimination measure. The two categories are added to sex, race, age, natural origin, religion or political affiliation to the section prohibiting discrimination in employment, appointments and promotions.

Voting against the ordinance were Commissioners Mallory Jones, Shepherd and Allen. A second reading was required since the amendment involves the Macon-Bibb charter.

Recreation projects

Two recreation projects and a cultural arts facility received support Tuesday.

Improvements will be made to the Delores A. Brooks Park, Grand Opera House and for a new Lizella recreation center that would be built inside Flintrock Park.

The Lizella recreation center is one of the final projects being paid for with the 2012 special purpose local option sales tax. There is $494,626 dedicated for the project that is proposed to feature a pavilion and playground equipment inside a section of the Lake Tobesofkee recreation area.

The Lizella recreation project was approved 5-4 with Commissioners Larry Schlesinger, Bechtel, Allen, Shepherd and Jones in favor. Other commissioners said they wanted more meetings with residents to get their input on the project.

Delores Ann Brooks Park, formerly East Macon Park, will receive about $961,000 in renovations through sales tax bonds. Those improvements include expanding the driveway, finishing work on a new T-ball field, renovating restrooms and cleaning the recreation center’s exterior.

Commissioners also approved spending $2.8 million in sales tax bond funds and 2018 SPLOST revenue for upgrades to the Grand Opera House. The downtown event venue will receive a new air conditioning system, seating and flooring upgrades and more.

Stanley Dunlap: 478-744-4623, @stan_telegraph

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