By Alyssa Schnugg
A new proposed development, dubbed Trail Head, on a narrow stretch of land off Molly Barr Road will provide a trailhead entry onto the Depot Trial and a connection to the nearby C.B. Webb apartment complex.
JM Engineering and Design, the developers, originally asked the Oxford Planning Commission for a variance from the required 50-foot buffer adjacent to the trail by reducing it to 25 feet at the north end of the property and by 4 feet from the southern end. They also asked the commission for a special exception on structure height.
After an hour-long discussion with the Commission Monday night during their regular meeting, the two variances were approved; however, the Commission actually modified the variance of the buffer, allowing a 25-foot variance along the entire length of the property to make room for more parking.
Commission members were pleased with the proposed 11 structures planned for the site and the improvements to the trailhead and connection to C.B. Webb; however, they – along with nearby neighbors – expressed concerns about the parking.
There would be 33 bedrooms in the development; however, the original plan only planned for 28 parking spaces which did match the city’s code requirements of two bedrooms per unit.
Attorney James Justice spoke to the commission on behalf of the Community Green development where he is also a resident.
Justice said there is already a parking problem on Molly Barr Road with people parking along the road and in other developments due to other nearby apartment complexes not providing enough parking for their tenants.
Earlier on Monday, the Oxford Police Department announced that parking along Molly Barr Road would no longer be allowed and violators will be towed.
“What you got is overflow from Molly Barr Trails … and Molly Barr Ridge up the hill,” Justice said. “With the announcement from the police department, what we’ve done is taken what’s a problem and it’s going to be worse.”
Justice said he and his neighbors are happy with the development’s proposed plan but there are concerns over the minimal parking inside the Trail Head Development.
Project manager Stewart Rutledge spoke on behalf of the developers and said they’d be happy to provide more parking if they had more room to do so.
Letters in support of the project came from the University of Mississippi and the Oxford Pathways Commission – when the requested buffer variance was 25 feet only on the north end and 4 feet on the south end.
However, despite concerns about the Pathways Commission possibly having objections to extending the parking further into the buffer, the Commission voted unanimously to grant the 25-foot buffer variance along the entire development.
The approval comes with the restriction that the extra room granted by the variance can only be used to create more parking for the residents in the development.
The special exception asked the Commission to allow the units to be three stories, however, the bottom story would be for parking spaces. The total height would be about 36 feet.
The Trailhead Development developers will now have to present a site plan to the Commission and the Oxford Board of Aldermen for their final approval of the project.