MACON, Ga. — Dozens of neighbors showed up at the Macon-Bibb Planning & Zoning Board meeting Monday to voice their opposition for an event center on Old Forsyth Road, and their voices were heard as the board denied the plans.
According to the original plans filed with the zoning board for the Dec. 9, 2019 meeting, the property owners of 6150 Old Forsyth Road wanted to convert the space to an event venue.
In the summer, Jojo Poff moved into the nearly 3-acre property. As they turned the space into their new home, an idea came to mind.
"We felt like maybe Macon has a little bit of a shortage for outdoor event spaces that are also really conveniently located to downtown, hotels," says Poff.
The documents said the 2.72-acre property contains two large pastures, a house and a barn – although the barn is not large enough for events and would only be used for a photo booth, and the house would be used only as a bridal dressing area.
They also said there is a 32-car capacity for parking.
The planned use of the space would accommodate 125 people – including event staff -- for luncheons, showers, weddings, receptions, holiday parties or corporate events.
Poff says, "We wanted maybe two a month, so that would be, what? 24 days out of the year that we would have people parking and here and here on the property."
But neighbors strongly opposed using the space as an event venue.
Poff says, "Pages and pages of names of neighbors that said, 'No, this is not a good idea. We don't want this.'"
In the updated filing for the Jan. 13 meeting, there are at least a dozen pages of signatures from surrounding homeowners petitioning the board to deny the proposal.
She says, "It's a two-way street. Nobody came to ask us, 'What's going on, what the deal? What are you trying to do?' but in turn, we didn't necessarily reach out to our neighbors and say, 'Hey, guys, what do you think?'"
As reasons, they claimed the size of the property was inadequate for its proposed use, safety [problems at the "already-dangerous" intersection], a lack of parking, and a negative impact on their property values.
Also included in the updated filing was a letter from an appraiser with Anderson Valuation Services Inc., which supports the petitioners.
It states the amount of people and cars in the area would harm the quality of life for surrounding homeowners and cause a 20-30% loss in market value to their homes.
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