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Lot size still a barrier for new development

A developer looking to build smaller homes on smaller lots was denied a variance for the second time by the Lafayette County Planning Commission.

Developers John and J.W. McCurdy sought a variance Monday to allow his 55-lot development, Briarwood, to have 7,500-square feet lots rather than the 10,000-square feet requirement county leaders passed last year in an attempt to keep down density in county subdivisions.

John McCurdy told the commissioners that the density of the development is no higher with the proposed 7,500-square feet lots than if they had 10,000-square feet lots based on the amount of open space remaining in the development.

J.W. McCurdy said that 60 percent of the homes would sell for $160,000 or less.

To get there, we need to put them on smaller lots,” he said. “We’re filling a need of reasonably-priced houses.”

Commissioner and board president T.J. Ray said that a $160,000 home is not affordable for a good amount of Lafayette County’s workforce.

To call it affordable housing is a bloody lie,” he said.

You said affordable. I said reasonable,” J.W. replied.

The county is in the process of updating its Comprehensive Plan and considering a zoning ordinance which, if passed, would allow for smaller lots under certain conditions.

When zoning is in, whoever is on this board may say ‘good for you,’ but until then, we are living by the rules we have,” Ray said.

J.W. McCurdy said his plan fits in with the proposed future Land Use Map.

We have water and sewer available through the city (of Oxford),” he said. I don’t understand why we have to hide behind this piece of paper that says it has to be 10,000 square feet. We all know why that was put in and we all agree it’s not a great rule but no one will stop it.”

Commissioner Dick Marchbanks said he thought the site plan was “fine” as presented.

There’s a big need for this price range of housing,” he said. “But right now, I don’t think we have the authority.”

The commission voted to deny the variance and allow the McCurdys to appeal the decision to the Board of Supervisors who implemented the 10,000-square feet lot rule and who have the ultimate authority on whether or not to grant variances from that rule until the new Comp Plan and Land Use Ordinances and map are approved.

 

In other business Monday, the commission:

  • Approved the final commercial plat for the Civilization Project, a gin distillery off Old Taylor Road
  • Tabled the preliminary plats for Woodson Ridge Phase II and III
  • Approved the county engineer to write a letter on behalf of county resident Brenda Slate to the Mississippi State Board of Cosmetology, stating there are no zoning laws in the county preventing her from running a hair salon business from her home.