Friday, March 31, 2023

Proposed Building Planned for Old Better Brands Spot Denied

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

Rendering of a proposed residential building. Provided via city of Oxford Planning

The Oxford Planning Commission denied a developer’s request for two special exceptions and variances for a proposed residential building where the now-closed Better Brands warehouse was located on Depot Street.

The site is surrounded by University of Mississippi property with the historic Oxford University Depot and the Depot walking trails.

The applicant, Roy Decker with the Servati Group, was proposing to build a five-story residential building with 10 residential units that include six, two-bedroom units and four, three-bedroom units.

Due to several limitations on the site, including North East Mississippi Electric Power Association high transmission powerline bisects the middle of the property and includes a 50-foot easement that prohibits construction, reducing the useable space on the lot from 24,000-square-feet to 5,600-square feet.

However, to build the proposed project, the developer would need at least two special exceptions – one from the step-back section and one from the Traditional Neighborhood Business zoning to have first-floor residential in a TNB – and two variances – structure height and parking.

An additional two variances would also be required; however, the developer only presented the four to the Planning Commission Monday.

Oxford planning staff recommended to the Planning Commission to deny the special exception and variance requests due to the need for so many variances just to make the building fit city code and the lack of commercial space on the first floor since it is zoned TNB.

“I love that you want to do this landmark building, but four variances and two special exceptions on one site is a lot,” said Commissioner Judy Riddell. “It says to me that this is not the right thing for this site right now.”

The commission unanimously voted to deny the special exceptions and variances.