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Lafayette County Planning Commission gives nod to new county complex

Since the day the idea to build a new county complex first was devised by the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors, has been called everything from an office park to a court complex.

On Monday, the Lafayette County Planning Commission approved the preliminary and final site plans for what is now known as the Lafayette County Business Center and Multipurpose Facility.

Architect Corey Alger presented the plans to the commission, explaining each building, its function and the landscaping planned for the site. After showing blown-up renderings, he showed what the complex will look like on a 3-D animated “fly over.”

“We were charged for selecting possible locations on the site and we took a good bit of time with the site analysis,” Alger said. “Being close to Highway 6 was key, as well as dealing with the topography of the site and the TVA transmission line that runs down the property.”

The new facility is being built on about 50 of the 160 acres owned by Lafayette County off County Road 406. The need for the center came when the Mississippi Department of Transportation announced the widening of Highway 7 and that several county offices along the highway would need a new home, including an office for the Mississippi Highway Patrol. Other county offices, like the Department of Human Services, the Coroner’s Office and Justice Court, needed more room and updated facilities. Also in the complex will be the Oxford Municipal Court, which is currently located in City Hall but has outgrown its space. The city will rent the space in the complex from the county at $85,000 a year for 10 years, along with an estimated $9,660 for the city’s share of utilities.

DHS and Child Protection Services will be housed together in one of the four buildings on the site. The two courts, Justice and Municipal, will be in the main building that faces an outdoor courtyard.

WIN Job Center will share a building with the MHP and the Coroner’s Office will be in the fourth and smallest building.

Behind the center will be county’s first indoor-outdoor 48,000-square foot arena that will have a dirt-floored arena with concrete around the outside for seating and concessions.

Alger said the building designs followed core principals — that they should be functional, usable and durable while being simple, efficient and flexible.

On the plans, there are private outdoor areas for employees to enjoy as well.

Commissioner Ray Garrett asked why the need for such a large courtyard.

Alger said the lobbies for both courtrooms were designed to hold about 96 people.

“On court days, there won’t be enough room inside for everyone waiting,” he said. “We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on making large lobbies.”

Commission president T.J. Ray had some issues with the design and aesthetics of the buildings.

“No offense,” he said, “but they’re a bit strange looking.”

Garret, an attorney, pointed out the jury box needed to be changed.

“There are only six seats and while there’s rarely a jury trial for justice court, there needs to be a seventh seat for the alternate juror.”

The commission approved the plans in a unanimous vote. Alger said the plans still need to go before and be approved by the Oxford Planning Commission — since the center is being served by Oxford water and sewer, the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors and Oxford Board of Aldermen.

In other business Monday, the commission:

•Approved the preliminary and final commercial plant for Mastercuts

•Approved the overall phasing plan amendment and final plat for Phases 2 and 3 of Fieldstone Farms

•Approved the preliminary and final subdivision plat for Atlanta Avenue Phase 3

•Approved the preliminary commercial site plan for Details Rentals Commercial Addition

•Approved the final plat for Oakmont Subdivision

•Approved the preliminary commercial site plan for Keystone Cottages

•Tabled a request to approve the preliminary commercial site plan for Herod Condominiums

•Approved a tower for wireless communications near Clear Creek