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City Denies Appeal to Build Rental Complex

A developed trail surrounded by forest in Oxford.
A developed trail surrounded by forest in Oxford.

The clash between longtime residents living in single-family homes and rental housing developers is a storyline that plays out in college towns like Oxford regularly.
Last night, the Board of Aldermen chose not to overturn a denial by the Planning Commission that effectively stopped a developer from building a large housing complex in the city. That complex was slated for more than 40 acres located on Anderson Road, an area already congested with traffic and student housing. The area is behind the old mall and west of St. Andrews.
A number of local residents came out to show their opposition to the development, and a petition had been submitted to the board with 70 signatures. The board’s decision not to intervene was followed by light applause from the audience. The request would have changed the zoning designation from agricultural and single family to a two-unit residential rental district.
Zoning and preservation are two of the tools that residents use in an attempt to keep out developments that burden city sewer and water systems, and add traffic to crowded roads that weren’t designed for such elevated use.
A drawing of housing rented out in Starkville by the same company that wanted to build a complex in Oxford.
A drawing of housing rented out in Starkville by the same company that wanted to build a complex in Oxford.

A company representative at the board meeting described the rental housing for the Aspen Heights complex as a modern cottage-style community. A development by the same company in Starkville offers two-story homes for rent that have two to five bedrooms. The representative added that the trend in development on the road is student housing, not single-family dwellings. A number of single-family homes do exist in the area, although they are not new construction.
Cowan Hunter, the co-chairman of the Oxford Tree Board, stood and asked from the audience that the board not approve the appeal. Hunter said this development would prove a significant loss to the urban forest and tree canopy.
“Just because other large apartment complexes are there, doesn’t mean we need any others,” Hunter said.
The city will vote March 18 on a landscaping ordinance amendment that would require mitigation when heritage trees of a certain size are cut down.
– Gretchen Stone is HottyToddy.com associate editor. You can contact Gretchen about this story at Gretchen.Stone@HottyToddy.com

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