Well Apache 2.2.8 set's its local priviledges very strict from the beginning, look for the row ~187 in httpd.conf
That's what is restricting everything beneath your doc root unless you want to specify with .htaccess...
# Each directory to which Apache has access can be configured with respect
# to which services and features are allowed and/or disabled in that
# directory (and its subdirectories).
# First, we configure the "default" to be a very restrictive set of
Deny from all <--- Change this to Allow from all
But if mostly public content in the site I would conf the httpd.conf to allow from the web documents folder and restrict anything else with .htaccess or other methods.