Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission staff said it's "concerned" about "negative" impacts a proposed 250,000-square-foot shopping center could have on homes on Zebulon Road.
Birmingham, Ala.-based Blackwater Resources wants to rezone the about 25 acres of property in the area between Northway Church, 5915 Zebulon Road, east toward the Stone Edge and Ashford Park subdivisions from residential to commercial.
In its staff report released Thursday, the commission also expressed concerns about a possible 50 percent increase in traffic on the roadway.
Blackwater traffic engineers submitted a report to P&Z staff estimating that traffic on Zebulon Road could likely increase by an average of nearly 14,000 weekday road trips.
Zebulon Road currently carries 26,770 weekday road trips, according to the staff report.
"This is a considerable increase in the amount of traffic in that corridor," the report states. "...There could be a significant impact to the existing traffic on Zebulon Road as well as the adjacent neighborhoods."
Residents have submitted a petition with 400 signatures in opposition to the proposed rezoning. They recently had a neighborhood meeting to discuss the plans that included more than 100 residents.
While Blackwater's plan includes building a buffer zone to reduce any disturbance to surrounding residences, "this buffer is not large enough to abate the inevitable concerns arising from the construction and later operation of the shopping center," the staff report states.
Some of the disturbances listed in the report are traffic noises, lights, bright signage, retail trucks and overnight delivery hours.
Blackwater, according to the P&Z report, says that several large retailers not currently represented in Macon have expressed interest in locating to the proposed development. The retail offerings, says Blackwater, "would be beneficial to the residential areas and schools in the nearby area to the south and east."
The proposed center could create between 350 to 500 jobs and generate between $40,000,000 to $50,000,000 in gross annual sales, "generating significant sales taxes," according to Blackwater.
The P&Z staff report contends, "There has not been a significant increase in population in this area of the county ... there has been no change to the land uses in the corridor that would establish a new land use policy or set a precedent to rezone this property."
The matter will go before the Planning and Zoning Commission at 1:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall in the council chamber in downtown Macon.