A local business owner told the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors Monday that he feared the proposed county zoning ordinance could set back progress with Oxford Springs, a 2,600-acre development near Abbeville.
“[The Oxford Spring developers] have an approval vote of a land-use concept that’s not supported in the zoning ordinance, and we’re [asking], ‘Why not?'” Corey Alger of Alger Design Studio said. “We’ve done a tremendous amount of work on this piece of property based on a land-use map – not anything concrete, but a land-use map.”
The board approved the land-use map of the Oxford Springs development in May, which led Alger to believe the county’s proposed zoning map would designate the Oxford Springs area as a Planned-Unit Development (PUD) district rather than Agricultural.
“There are limitations on Agricultural, what you can and cannot do,” Alger said. “The current zone, Agricultural, doesn’t give us flexibility. We’re limited on uses, limited on densities. We’re limited on a number of things.”
If the area is deemed Agricultural, Alger would have to present re-zoning requests to the board as well as have a PUD application filed and amended, both of which are lengthy processes, according to Mike Slaughter, owner of Slaughter and Associates planning firm and consultant to the board.
Slaughter explained that other areas of the future land-use map will allow the same type of growth as the Oxford Springs development, but until there’s infrastructure in those areas, they will continue to be zoned Agricultural.
“It’s like Oxford Springs doesn’t even exist in [the proposed] zoning map,” Alger said. “So, this [Oxford Springs land-use] map that was approved doesn’t have any value?”
“We’ve gone as far as we can from a legal planning standpoint,” Slaughter said. “I don’t think I can advise the board to put that on the map. I think it’d be a little bit premature to do that. We’ve taken a step to try to accommodate Oxford Springs as best we could.”
“What we have done with PUD, to accommodate that change, is identify [Oxford Springs] in the comprehensive plan,” Slaughter added. “If we didn’t have that identified in the comprehensive plan, that would be an issue.”
Supervisor Kevin Frye added that no other future developments have been zoned as PUD on the zoning map.
“You can’t just zone a whole area PUD. That’s not how it’s supposed to work,” Frye said. “Because it’s a PUD and you have to go through the process to get it, you’re going to have to come back and say, ‘This is our master plan, and it’s changing.’ When you come in with phase one and you’re ready to go, you’ll have people willing to listen.”
Supervisor Chad McLarty said the approved land-use map has the full support of the board. “Myself, personally, and I think the rest of the board, loves the master [land-use] plan,” but as the area sits currently undeveloped, the board sees no reason to designate the district as anything other than Agricultural.
“People are deer hunting on it,” McLarty added.
Board members reminded Alger that the Oxford Springs development was taken into consideration while planning the zoning map, but Alger still had to follow the same requirements as everybody else.
“I’ll follow the rules. I get it,” Alger said, with a chuckle. “It’s not easy, though.”
Although Monday night marked the final public hearing, McLarty said that doesn’t mean the community can’t voice their opinions or concerns about the proposed zoning ordinance before the board casts their vote.
Lafayette County residents can visit the Lafayette County website for more information about the zoning ordinance or contact a supervisor directly.
Supervisors will vote for the proposed zoning ordinance in their next meeting on Thursday, Dec. 28.
By Randall Haley, associate editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.