Macon-Bibb Commissioners consider solutions for vacant land

MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The vacant lot on the corner of Riverside Drive and New Street in downtown Macon was all set for the Renaissance on the River Project, which is a residential and commercial development.
But a problem with the land–one you can’t see with your eyes–halted the project at the end of last year.

The place is dirty, and the Macon-Bibb Mayor and Commissioners know it. 

It’s not full of trash, but the section of land on Riverside Drive is full of dirty dirt.

“The residual contaminants are well below the surface of the ground,” said legal counsel to the commissioners Andy Welch.

Up under parts of the soil right now are some heavy metals–one of which being lead, which is dangerous to humans.

And that means for now, this soil would be no good for residential use.

The land was set to be the future home of the Renaissance on the River project, which is a residential and commercial space.

But since the developer pulled out in December, four months later, the commissioners are back to the drawing board

“We want to do is try to provide the maximum level of utility for the property,” said Welch.

They met with Andy Welch and Joe Tanner and Associates Tuesday afternoon to figure out what to do next.

“We wanted to educate the commissioners on what steps we think going forward and what are the mechanisms by which we can lower the risk levels and lower the exposure–public exposure of any contaminants,” said Welch.

Those steps include either replacing the dirt on the entire property, which would take millions, or set up physical barriers.

“Concrete foundations is an engineering barrier or control that would prevent the exposure,” said Welch.

So sidewalks, parking lots, or fences would work.

But for now, you don’t have to worry, Welch says the land is perfectly safe–there’s at least two feet of good soil are between you and the soil that’s a little dirtier than the regular stuff.

The Mayor said the plan was to start putting a price tag on what it would take to ensure the land is safe for residents.

This would hopefully bring the original developer of the land back, the Mayor said this was the best case scenario for the city.

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