Oxford to study 'Katrina cottages'

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

OXFORD – Aldermen approved a 90-day moratorium Tuesday on the placement of “Katrina cottages” within city limits or in developments seeking city utilities.
The action will not affect an 18-unit development on South Lamar that was approved as rental property.
Katrina cottages originated as 400- to 1,200-square-foot houses built for people on the Mississippi Gulf Coast who lost homes to Hurricane Katrina, built from designs commissioned by the Mississippi Renewal Forum. The cottages, which can be either site-built or modular, have been touted as attractive and practical houses for individuals and small families. The moratorium did not indicate an overall opposition to having the cottages inside Oxford.
“They’re affordable, they’re sustainable, they’re efficient from a construction perspective,” City Planner Tim Akers said. “We’d like to find a way to fit them into the community.” He added that an Ocean Springs developer has invited Oxford aldermen to visit his award-winning Katrina cottage community.
The moratorium’s stated purpose was to give city officials time to study whether existing ordinances sufficiently address any issues that the cottages would raise.
“What we want to do is to step back a little back … see how they fit with our code … how they’re going to fit into this community,” Akers said. “We think it’s good to take a little time to talk with people in other communities that have them.”
Ward 3 Alderman Janice Antonow expressed reservations about whether the cottages would change the character of existing neighborhoods.
“There’s probably a place for them,” she said.
No members of the public addressed the issue.
Even though the previously approved Katrina community is outside city limits, developers Colbert and Debbie Jones had put their plans under city approval as a condition of having city water and sewer services for the development. They plan to open 18 rental cottages for one-person occupancy – presumably mostly University of Mississippi students – on Aug. 1.
Debbie Jones is excited to see their plans coming to fruition.
“I love it when potential tenants see the vision and are as excited as I am,” she wrote on Facebook.
Contact Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or errol.castens@journalinc.com.