Bibb Zoning Council Approves Sardinia Convenience Stores and Truck Stop

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New fitness center with large family pool and sunbeds arrives north of Macon

MACON, Georgia – The debate on Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commissionthe approval of two neighboring convenience stores shows why regulatory changes are pending.

“This is one of the reasons I think we can’t get new zoning regulations fast enough,” P&Z President Jeane Easom said at the committee’s administrative meeting on Monday.

First, the commissioners approved Raxit Patel’s conditional use request to install what he calls a “small grocery store” with gas pumps in the old Taco Bell at 1212 Eisenhower Parkway, not far away. west of Interstate 75.

The commission also approved a conditional use request for Kareem Ali to build a brand new convenience store with gas pumps at 1250 Eisenhower Parkway, next to the Sunoco store on the corner of Pio Nono.

Willam Larson, a lawyer representing Patel, actually spoke out against Ali’s proposal because of the closeness to his client’s project.

Nearby this 1200 block there are two other existing convenience stores on the other side of Eisenhower.

“We don’t need so many convenience stores,” Easom said.

“They wouldn’t agree with you,” P&Z executive director Jim Thomas said of the plaintiffs at the hearing.

P&Z Commissioner Gary Bechtel noted that in this expanse of commercial scourge “we have two people who are willing to invest millions of dollars to bring these two properties into service.”

Easom said she was “all for anyone who opens a business and succeeds,” but worries about what will happen to buildings if businesses fail due to too much competition in the neighborhood.

Bechtel said the commission must determine what is the best use of this land.

“I think that’s what we have to figure out and not try to read into the future whether someone is going to get there or not,” Bechtel said.

The commission has declared a moratorium on requests from convenience stores so that they can further investigate what should guide their decisions. These two projects were tabled before the approval of the moratorium.

Jim Rollins and Robert Moore, who represented Ali at the hearing, said they also had plans for a light industrial manufacturing plant as part of an ongoing deal for the vacant former Piggly Wiggly on the same large plot of the shopping center.

A future public working session is scheduled to include the convenience store industry in the discussion of how these properties would be managed in the future.

New gymnasium approved for the north of Macon

Max Fitness, which recently opened a 40,000 square foot location on Sutherlin Drive in Warner Robins, will be opening a new 36,000 square foot gym at 4154 Riverside Drive, just north of Sue Drive.

P&Z commissioners have approved the conditional use of the 9 acres zoned for agriculture, which includes some recreational uses.

Fitness manager Jeremy Blowers said they hope to close the lot by the end of the year and construction is expected to take at least a year.

“It will be a large facility and there will be shops inside,” Blower said.

The fitness center will include a large family pool and sun beds.

Sardis church truck stop authorized for construction

Concerned residents gathered at P&Z meetings in February and April to dezoning of protest for a new road stop at 5250 Sardis Church Road, but no one spoke out against final approval of the project on Monday.

Although the commissioners initially postponed the February zoning change request to allow for a traffic study, they changed the zoning of the agricultural land to industrial development planned for April.

On Monday, David Stoniecki of the Forsyth Group was back to show the commissioners the final site plan for the location of Travel Centers of America and its two plots for future development.

“This is an excellent property to continue to meet the industrial needs of the region,” said Stoniecki.

A creek, wetlands and a 150-foot buffer zone will remain on the west side of the property adjacent to the residential neighborhood housing many of those opposed to the project.

The lights will shine up and away from the houses.

“They will obviously always see a glow where there isn’t one now,” Thomas noted at the pre-hearing meeting.

The spring traffic study showed that the additional traffic from this second truck stop across from Love’s existing location is still under the Georgia Department of Transportation’s threshold for a traffic light.

Negotiations are underway with Macon-Bibb County traffic engineers and the Macon-Bibb County Industrial Authority, Stoniecki said. The entities are expected to share the cost of any future traffic lights at Frank Amerson Parkway, he said.

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