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Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning denies plan to demolish century-old home, replace it with gardens

Some in the neighborhood say the home at 2353 Vineville once belonged to the first woman to receive a bachelor's from an accredited university.

MACON, Ga. — The Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning Board Monday stopped a plan from the Big House Foundation to knock down a century-old Vineville home and build a garden in its place.

Neighbors worried about additional noise peeking through from Vineville Avenue, and from a rumored amphitheater. Others said the home once belonged to the first woman ever to receive a bachelor's degree from an accredited university: Catherine Brewer Benson.

The Big House Foundation says Brewer Benson never lived in the house, and that this house was built from outbuildings on her original property after she died.

Over the course of the almost two-hour long debate, one word remained central: history. Not the history of the house, but the history of the Vineville neighborhood.

Chris Clark loves his neighborhood in historic Vineville. He grew up there. It's home.

"We've got families, I raised my children there. We put down roots there," Clark said.

The rows of houses, manicured lawns and parks are some of his favorite things, but a green space the Big House proposed is not one of them.

"My main concern is that we're going to lose the streetscape that's presented by this house being on Vineville," Clark said.

The house at 2353 Vineville sits right next to the Big House. They say it's dangerous, and that there's actually a demolition order for the house. Their proposal to replace the house with a garden didn't fly with commissioners. They voted to fail the plan.

Now, it's back to the drawing board for the Big House. Commissioners told Jim Wells, the treasurer, that even though the plan was denied, they can come back with ideas on how to save the house. They said they'd also welcome a new home in its place.

Planning and Zoning commissioners said the main problem with the Big House proposal is that there would be too big of a space between houses. That's because historic neighborhoods like Vineville have certain requirements and restrictions, they said.

Wells declined an interview. He told us there was no backup plan.

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