Society Garden, a popular entertainment venue on Ingleside Avenue, is facing scrutiny for apparently deviating from its original conditional use approval granted in 2017.
UPDATE (1/22/24): The Macon-Bibb County Planning and Zoning Commission heard from the owners of the Society Garden Monday about the renewal of its conditional use application.
The Executive Director of the Planning and Zoning Commission, Jeff Ruggiere, says the commission is working with the Society Garden to find solutions for parking and reducing noise from live performances.
“We’re trying to find a way to compromise so the Society Garden can still operate at the high level that they’re operating, provide the services that they provide to this community, and still protect the neighborhood from those negative impacts of traffic and noise and lighting and things like that,” Ruggiere said.
The commission voted to defer the agenda item to next month’s meeting. That meeting will take place on February 19.
MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Society Garden, a popular entertainment venue on Ingleside Avenue, is facing scrutiny for apparently deviating from its original conditional use approval granted in 2017.
The venue has now applied for a revision of its conditional use, and the Macon-Bibb Planning and Zoning (MBPZ) Commission is scheduled to review the application at its upcoming meeting.
In the application, applicant Megan Evans stated the need to revise the condition use for Society Garden to reflect several changes that have been made since its original 2017 approval.
The 2017 approval for the venue permitted a beer and wine garden with occasional outside live entertainment and a garden supply store with external storage, sales and display. Stipulations included a 10 p.m. closing time throughout the week, outside seating for up to 50 people and a monthly concert series with a 12’x12’ stage, as well as a vegetative buffer from nearby homes.
However, the venue’s current operations, as advertised on its website, include a closing time of 12 a.m. from Wednesday to Saturday, a capacity of 500 people and regular live music events every weekend. According to a MBPZ staff analysis, a larger stage and a 23’x17’ stadium seating structure have been built without approval, and most of the original vegetative buffer has been removed.
MBPZ says the expansions and changes in operations led to an anonymous noise complaint in November 2023.
“In its current form as an entertainment venue hosting large events and crowds, the business is pushing the bounds of the C-1 district,” the staff analysis states. “The Commission should impose conditions to ensure compatibility with the adjacent neighborhood.” The analysis added that “the applicant has provided no reasons why the property cannot be used for a more appropriate or less harmful conditional use” and that the changes being applied for now “have already been made without approvals.”
The staff recommended changes going forward, including the reinstatement of a vegetative buffer, directing lighting away from neighboring properties, ending live music hours at 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and at 9 p.m. on other nights, closing at midnight and meeting parking standards.
MBPZ will meet on Monday, January 22 at 1:30 p.m.