Macon-Babe Planning and Zoning has approved the demolition of the Bears Den and Oaks Pass Road apartments
Macon, Georgia — An application for outdoor worship space for First Presbyterian Church by the Macon Pape for planning and zoning won’t be heard until early next year, but the project — which includes demolition of historic property — was brought up at Monday’s administrative meeting and will likely lead to an upcoming change. in the code.
A legal opinion maintained that the church plan approved in 1991 and 1998 could still move forward because the church had continued to work on the four-phase project in the intervening years. However, the 31-year gap between approval and planned demolitions is causing some P&Z commissioners to look into a possible revision of their codes.
The Macon Historic Foundation opposed the demolition of the century-old Sunday School building and the 1945 office of pioneering architect Elama Ellis Legg.
Architect Gene Donody Jr., whose grandfather designed the old building now used for administrative offices, also spoke out against the demolitions, as did architect Shannon Fickling.
But P&Z CEO Jeff Ruggieri has made it clear that the church has an unconditionally guaranteed legal right to move forward.
“It’s obviously an important component of the community to make sure we’re on the same page,” Ruggieri told the commissioners. “But I made the decision at the personnel level…. If people come to you and ask why you allowed it, I didn’t put it in front of you because it is very clear in my mind and legal opinion.”
P&Z Commissioner Josh Rogers responded, “I think 30 years is a long time for approval.”
“And you are absolutely right,” replied Ruggieri.
“I don’t agree with that,” said P&Z President Jeane Easom, “but I don’t see where we have any choice.”
Rogers replied, “I’m with her.”
Ruggieri explained that there is language in the code that rejects previous decisions if a project is abandoned, but it does not define what abandon means. As First Presbyterian Church was completing the project in phases, it was considered ongoing.
“It’s great to have it on the list of amendments,” Rogers said, referring to expected revisions to the laws governing P&Z decisions.
“Just the fact that the church is back with a plan means not abandoning it,” said Ruggieri.
There are no poker nights, strippers at the Full House Tavern
The recent opening of the Full House Tavern raised questions when P&Z commissioners began seeing posts on social media looking for card dealers for poker games at the old Olive Garden restaurant near the corner of Mercer University Drive and Bloomfield Road.
On September 30, P&Z employees granted a permit for a restaurant to contain alcohol, but specifically banned pool tables, gambling, and slot machines.
Once he learned of the restrictions, owner Kevin Smith said he made a request to instead become a private club that charges a membership or admission fee, be open from 2pm to 3am and cater to clients who are at least 21 years old.
Smith said that with the Macon Mall amphitheater project in progress, he wanted to have a restaurant at 3630 Mercer university Drive as Olive Garden closed and nearby O’Charley’s and Chick-fil-A also closed.
“I don’t think what you want to do is have a private club charge a membership fee or an annual fee,” Isom said.
Ruggieri suggested Smith’s app to be a restaurant with live entertainment, instead.
“With a private club, the commissioners will have a lot of questions,” said Ruggieri.
Commissioner Brian Scott proposed approving a restaurant with the possibility of live entertainment.
“I have to say this doesn’t include strippers,” Scott said.
Isom said she wasn’t comfortable allowing the restaurant to open until 3 a.m., so the commissioners closed hours at 2 a.m., which is when bars should close.
Smith said he does not currently have an alcohol license but uses a caterer to service the restaurant.
Commissioner Gary Bechtel has questioned previous Full House social media posts about poker games and hiring dealers.
“It’s another way to get butts in the seats,” said Smith, who is from Atlanta. “Some people use it for trivia nights, some people use karaoke, but poker was for us. … When we were told it wasn’t an appropriate use for our restaurant, we removed it.”
Bechtel asked how the committee could trust him when the operation brought in pool tables and card tables after the declaration that said pool tables, slot machines and gambling were not allowed.
Manager Terrence Smith told Bechtel that the Full House Tavern had discontinued it after meeting with P&Z employees.
“You have my word for it,” said Terrence Smith.
Scott suggested approving a permit for a restaurant offering live entertainment “without poker nights.”
“There are no strippers,” Isom said. “I just want to make it clear.”
The permit was approved 3 to 1 with Bechtel voting against it.
Bear Dean demolished, car park approved
When in September the Design Review Board signed off on Bear’s Den’s plans to demolish a house at 1191 Oglethorpe Street to expand the parking lot, landscaping details had to be reviewed before final approval by P&Z.
On Monday, restaurateur Christy Lyles and engineer Steve Rowland submitted updated parking plans that P&Z approved.
P&Z employees did not support demolishing the home, according to documents filed in September. The single-family, wood-frame house was found to be diminished in safety and not significant to the Bell Hill neighborhood in a 2004 survey, although an earlier study in 1987 indicated that it was a contributing building to the neighborhood.
DRB Chairman Chris Clark admitted it was a difficult call to allow the demolition because there had been recent development and renovations on nearby streets.
A summary in documents filed for Monday’s P&Z hearing said: “The new parking area will be a solution to congestion, which is a major problem especially during peak restaurant time.”
New Pass Road Apartments near Providence
A new 132-unit “upscale” apartment complex has been approved on approximately 5.5 acres at 1540 Bass Road, or 115 Providence Street, which is located across from the Publix Shopping Center and near the Providence subdivision.
Scott Thompson of Piedmont Construction Group said the four-story building will consist of enclosed loft apartments with entrances via a central corridor. Monthly rent payments are expected to be between $1,300 and $2,200.
The Whitney at Pass will rise behind the new TRU Hotel and adjacent to the Holiday Inn Express.
Although the commissioners expected opposition from Providence’s neighbors, no one spoke against the project.
Thompson said he met with Neighbors to discuss the project before appearing on P&Z.
“What I took away from my meeting is, ‘We don’t like it, but it’s better than anything else that might go out there,’ so I guess we’ll go for it.” “
A master plan for the area, Thompson said, suggested a superstore for that land.
Isome asked if Thompson planned to leave a barrier between the flats and the neighborhood, and said there would be a sloping easement there.
“Do the people of Providence understand that?” she asked.
Thompson replied, “I think so.”
“I realized that when they removed the other end (of the neighborhood) there was an uproar,” Izom said.
Thompson anticipates that most residents will be able to access the apartments from North Macon Street near CVS, not from Providence Blvd.
- 582 Mulberry Street – Commission approved new white monogrammed signage for Washington Lofts 1857, Christian Law.
- 476 Third Street and 566 Poplar Street – Approved new signage for Dannenburg Lofts, including vertical signage delivered from the side of the building at Third and Poplar Streets.
- 383 Buford – Exterior modifications to picket fence, privacy fence installation, and approved brick coating in historic residential district.
- 478 Poplar Street – New signage and ATMs approved for the One South Bank downtown location.
- 114 Buford Place – After complaints about landscaping blocking the view of motorists moving from Buford Place to Vineville Ave. The Design Review Board required revisions in the design. The home’s owner, Darrell Floyd, who owns a landscaping company, requested permission to retain his existing landscaping on the condition that the hedges be allowed to be no more than 2.5 feet in height. The Design Review Board agreed in a 4-1 vote, with DRB President Chris Clark voting against. Clark, also a landscape designer who lives in the neighborhood, has sparred with Floyd over design and vision issues in recent meetings.
- 1089 Eisenhower Bkwy. and 2475 Laveta Drive – John Ryan and Trench Guys granted a conditional use permit to allow for a construction company office and outside storage of equipment and machinery on 0.57 of an acre.
- 5151 Mercer University Drive of Mercer Junction – Truck parking has been approved on more than 3 acres of a 42-acre lot planned for mixed-use development at Mercer Junction near Interstate 475.
- 6195 Riggins Mill Road – Approved Manufacturer Home of 2.53 Acres Set aside for Agriculture.
- 1000 Guy Paine Road – Ryland Environmental has been approved for a 10,000-gallon above-ground fuel tank and dispenser to allow them to refuel septic trucks.
- 2198 Dennis Road – The Parker family was granted a variance to subdivide 64 acres of inherited property and to create an access easement for the tracts off Dennis Road.
– Senior Associate in Civic Journalism Liz Fabian covers government entities in the Macon Babe County and can be contacted at [email protected] or 478-301-2976.
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