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Potential urban sprawl concerns Bibb, Jones residents

By Christopher Schwarzen
The Macon Telegraph

Bibb and Jones county residents including Macon Mayor Jack Ellis expressed concern that a proposed 2025 land-use plan supports urban sprawl.

About 40 residents from both counties attended a public forum Monday night at the Macon Centreplex to offer comments on both land-use and transportation proposals. The largest issue raised was future growth outside Macon's city limits.

"It's a good guess the roads following the land-use plan promote urban sprawl," Ellis said. "Because we are entering nonattainment in July, all of (these proposals) could be reversed and ought to be."

Urban sprawl is defined as an uncontrolled growth that leaves a city's core empty of residents.

Ellis - along with NewTown Macon President Conie Mac Darnell - said he wanted to see more land-use proposals that would return residents to the city instead of using more undeveloped land.

Darnell said he was afraid current trends in Macon were producing sprawl-like problems.

"If we follow this trend, then we'll lose our urban core," he said. "I don't know we want to follow that."

If more alternative methods of transportation such as rail are introduced, it may not be necessary to have such a land-use pattern signalling a rise in new homes built outside city limits, Darnell and Ellis said.

But many trips being made into Macon for work already come from outside Bibb County, said Vernon Ryle, executive director of the Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission.

"Even if we redirect growth, we're still going to need these (transportation) changes," Ryle said.

Despite the concerns raised, others were pleased with the land-use options.

"We're not talking sprawl, we're talking growth," said developer Bob Cleveland. "Traffic is already strangling. Those of us who want opportunities for our children like to see this kind of planning."

The proposed land-use plan does leave enough undeveloped land to meet the governor's new green space plan, Ryle said. He also mentioned that future zoning regulations might protect more space.

To contact Christopher Schwarzen, call 744-4213 or e-mail



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