AutoZone ordered to remove wall

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The newly constructed AutoZone on University Avenue will have to remove a retaining wall, rocks and a fence from behind its store, or face possible fines.

On Monday, the Oxford Planning Commission denied a request from AutoZone for a variance that would “for- give” the retaining wall, which is almost double the height allowed by city code.

In June 2014, the AutoZone site plan was approved by staff. Since the building was beneath the threshold of 10,000- square feet in size, it did not need to go before the Oxford Planning Commission. The building was finished in 2015.

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City building staff discovered in October the wall was not built as shown on approved drawings. AutoZone had changed the design in the field without the city’s per- mission and built a 40-foot-long by 12.33-foot-high wall. City code allows for a maximum height of 6 feet for a retaining wall inside the Neighborhood Overlay District — which encompasses most of what is known as “Old Oxford.”

Behind the wall, AutoZone also placed large stone and a metal fence, which are also not in compliance with city code.

Jeff Kauerz with AutoZone said the higher wall was built during construction when the dirt behind it started to push on the wall.

“The contractor was concerned the soil was too unstable and thought the hill could collapse if the wall wasn’t construct- ed higher,” he said Monday. “We certainly didn’t want the higher wall as it was much more expensive than what he planned to spend.”

Commissioner John Bradley made the motion to deny the variance request, ordered AutoZone to rebuild the wall as per city codes and instructed code inspec- tors to issue any fines applicable if not completed as ordered. The commission supported the motion unanimously.

AutoZone could be fined a maximum of $100 a day since the wall was built, which was 189 days prior to the city sending a letter advising AutoZone of the violation.

Nods for Jackson Row

The commission approved three requests from CA Venture Student Living, the development building the Jackson Row mixed-use development on East Jackson Avenue.

Developers asked the commission to approved a special exception to allow residential in General Business zoning, a new site plan for the project and granted them a 6-foot height variance.

Jackson Row was given a special exception when developers first presented the site plan more than two years ago, to allow residential condominiums on top of commercial space. The original developers sold the property to CA Ventures of Chicago that appeared before the Oxford Planning Commission last year to get an extension of the special exception as the original had expired. It was granted, but with some required milestones.

Since the approval was granted based on the site plan submitted, developers for Jackson Row asked the Oxford Planning Commission for another special exception since the first one was tied to the original site plan and there’s been several changes to the site plan since the first was submitted. The buildings will be five stories high with 68 residential units, 224 bedrooms and 10,600 square feet of commercial space. The major change to the site plan was the removal of an atrium along the rear of the buildings. Developers said after reviewing building plans, the atrium design did not meet city code so it was removed from the site plan.

Also on Monday, the commission approved:

— A fence height variance of 3 feet, 3.5 inches for property on Oxford Creek Drive.

— A 10-foot front yard, and an 8-foot side yard setback variance to bring a home on North 15th Street that was built prior to building codes into compliance.

— Granted a parking variance to York Developments, LLC for a shopping center on North Thacker Loop.

— Granted a 2-foot retaining wall height variance for Shaw Properties, LLC for property on Jackson Avenue East.