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Oxford’s Cedar Bend development jumps first city hurdle

The property surrounding the late Jacob Thompson’s home and adjacent to Rowan Oak may soon be the location of eight new homes after the Oxford Planning Commission approved the preliminary plat for the single-family residential subdivision Monday night.

The 5.62 acres would be developed in two phases and be called Cedar Bend. The first phase has four lots, with three being about a half acre in size and another about 2 acres, which is where the historic home is located.

Thompson, the Inspector General of the Confederate States Army, built his home off  Old Taylor Road, adjacent to Rowan Oak. The house was burned down during the Civil War. Thompson and his wife lived in Europe for several years after the war and returned to Oxford in 1869 where they built a new home on the site. The home was later given to their son Macon and the Thompsons moved to Memphis where they lived out the remainder of their lives. The home is now the residence of the Howorth family and is known as Marworth. The surrounding property that will be Cedar Bend, is also owned by the Howorth family.

All proposed lots exceed the minimum 9,500 square feet for a lot in the single-family zoning district. When homes are proposed on these lots they will require a Certificate of Appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission. Land subdivision is not, however, reviewed by that commission.

Public Works is still working with the applicant’s engineer to finalize various engineering design details.

Assistant City Engineer Reanna Mayoral said Monday that the preliminary plat would not go before the Oxford Board of Aldermen for approval until those plans are signed off and approved by Public Works.

The proposed subdivision is located within an existing neighborhood, with utilities established to serve the needs at that time. Public Works has determined that separate sewer lines need to be installed to ensure service to the new lots. These lines are proposed to be located within the right-of-way and will be maintained by the city, but will be built in a way that minimizes impact to the existing streets. Public Works is also working with the city attorneys to determine the appropriate language regarding ownership of the storm-water systems.

Project engineer Paul Koshenina said the storm water detention areas are being carefully planned as to not disturb the trees on the property.

Reluctant approval

City Planner Judy Daniel said the preliminary plat meets all the technical standards for approval and therefore, there is no legal reason to deny the plat.

“The loss of the open lawn at this location is sad to contemplate,” Daniel said. “The corner opposite the entrance to Rowan Oak is emotionally a part of that historic space which is so important to this city. It is also an integral part of the historic setting of this home.”

Daniel told the commission the planning staff recommends approval of the preliminary plat, “albeit with reluctance.”

The commission unanimously approved the preliminary plat with several conditions recommended by the planning department that include having final approval of water and sewer plans approved by Public Works, that each property owner will share the maintenance of all common areas and that the case will not be heard by the Board of Alderman until the city has had time to review and approve revised construction plans for water, sewer, sidewalk and storm-water retention.