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Zebulon rezoning lawsuit heads to court today | News

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Zebulon rezoning lawsuit heads to court today

Superior Court Judge Edgar Ennis made no ruling Monday for a commercial project on Zebulon Road.

Both sides have 14 days to submit revised briefs.

That's after the a group of neighbors in north Bibb County appealed Planning and Zoning Commission's 3-2 decision in November to rezone 25 acres of property on Zebulon Road from residential to commercial.


The appeal seeks to reverse the zoning commission's decision alleging that officials "acted inappropriately by not following its own regulations when considering the rezoning."

The civil action was filed by attorney Bill Larsen on behalf of 27 property owners who live near the rezoned area in which an Alabama-based developer plans to build a 250,000-square-foot shopping center.

"What it will bring is a number of national businesses to the area and have a lot of uses in that community. We see that as a very good thing, things that they want," John Abernathy of Blackwater Resources said.

But many on Zebulon Road say living near a $30 million commercial space is exactly what they don't want.

About a dozen of them showed up to today's hearing.

"If they approve that shopping center, I wouldn't darken the doors. No matter what they put there," Billy Hester said.

Hester has lived in the Stone Edge subdivision off Zebulon Road for 31 years.

He says the shopping center would stop literally at his backyard.

"You got people potentially coming up through your backyard, stealing things, breaking into your house," Hester said. "It just adds a whole lot of different scenarios to the problems that might not be here now."

The developer says those fears can end only when progress begins.

"I think it's the unknown of them not seeing it yet and us not being able to move forward yet that it's not allowing them to see what they're missing," Abernathy said.

Glenn Smith, who's spearheaded neighborhood opposition, gathered around 500 signatures against the center.

He's been a 19-year resident on Zebulon Road.

He says when the area was first rezoned in the 1990s, the Planning and Zoning Commission said Northway Church and Sonny Carter Elementary should be the buffer between neighborhoods and businesses.

That agreement was never formally submitted in writing and can't be legally binding today.

But Smith says by blocking the shopping center, neighbors would be preventing the death of their neighborhood from dropped property values and a lower quality of life.

"I think it blows up existing neighborhoods. It blows up the entire fabric of our community. It's just wrong," Smith said.

If Judge Ennis rules that Planning and Zoning must review that decision, Blackwater would have to restart the zoning process from the beginning.


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