Oxford planners vote for hotel, against student complex

By Errol Castens/Daily Journal Oxford Bureau

OXFORD – The Oxford Planning Commission voted Monday to recommend the approval of a new hotel but against the approval of a proposed student apartment complex.
The TownePlace Suites proposed for a site across from the Oxford Conference Center will bring 94 extended-stay suites, adding to the 88 rooms available at the Hampton Inn and Suites next door. Because of the lot’s configuration, the design requires a variance on the 105 parking spaces required by city ordinance.
Commissioners approved an agreement between the hotel developer and the Oxford Conference Center to use 12 of its spaces.
The hotel would target “people working in Oxford during the week and going home on the weekends,” said Michael Jones, who is the project’s architect. “It would also be great for ball game weekends.”
Planning Commission member Gloria Kellum asked whether the hotel’s available would boost bookings at the city-owned conference center.
“The people at the Tourism Council and the Conference Center are very supportive of this,” City Engineer Bart Robinson said.
Planning Commission members voted against The Domain, a 234-unit development proposed by Asset Plus Companies, which builds student housing developments in college towns nationwide. The site is located off Old Taylor Road at the end of Oxford Way and bordering County Road 300.
Commission members and city officials lamented the lack of cooperative planning with the University of Mississippi.
“They were at the table with our Vision 2020 plan,” Mayor Pat Patterson said in answer to a commissioner’s question. “When they did their 20-year plan, we were not invited.”
Commissioners also lamented development that fits within city codes but is counter to stated principles of land use, especially development that puts ever-increasing traffic on narrow, curving, two-laned Old Taylor Road.
“Is this the way we want to have our community look – sprawling halfway to Taylor?” Watt Bishop asked. “The university wants to grow, and they have a vested interest in Oxford looking good (but) the ingresses into town are being overdeveloped with a car-centric culture.”
Mark Lindley, Asset Plus senior vice president, said his company is proactive in solving transportation problems. “In cases where the transportation system isn’t enough, my company buys shuttle buses and runs them ourselves all day long,” he said. “There’s no place for kids to park on campus anyway, so I have to get them to school somehow.”
In the end, the project was rejected because code would require Oxford Way to become a through street and would require two public ingresses.
All recommendations by the Planning Commission are subject to review by the Board of Aldermen.
errol.castens@journalinc.com