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Aldermen Nix Special Exception Requirement for Downtown Restaurants

By Alyssa Schnugg
Staff writer

Photo by Talbert Toole.

A change to the Land Development Code that would require new restaurants around the Square to gain a special exception—that was approved in July by the Oxford Board of Aldermen—was overturned by the Aldermen on Tuesday.

The change was approved on July 17 that would require special exception approval for restaurants in the Historic Urban Center District that plan to serve alcohol later than 11 p.m.

The restaurant would have to go before the Planning Commission and ask for approval to open the restaurant.

City Planner Judy Daniel said after the Board approved the change, some concerns were expressed by local business owners.

“The change only adds a higher level of review to allow consideration of concentration of restaurants in the Historic Urban Center District that serve alcohol after 11 p.m.,” Daniel said.

Restaurants currently open would have been grandfathered in; however, if that restaurant closed and someone re-opened it and the hours and use were the same, they would need a special exception.

Alderman Jason Bailey said he felt it would be an economic disadvantage for people who wanted to open a restaurant in one area who need the special exception while a restaurant next door could be grandfathered in.

The board voted 4 to 2 to reverse the July vote and remove the requirement from the Land Development Code. Dissenting votes were Aldermen Janice Antonow and Preston Taylor.

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