Supervisors approve office construction, farmers market

Published 10:30 am Monday, March 19, 2018

Zoning ordinances were put to the test at this morning’s meeting of the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors.

The meeting included two public hearings for new projects in the county, as well as discussion about infrastructure and state aid funds.

First up on the agenda was the approval of a conditional use permit for the construction of a new office complex at Coleman Funeral Home Cemetary on County Road 178, formerly Hurricane Lane. The property is in an area zoned for “Residential Estate” use, but a commercial-low density use,  or C1, building is allowed with a conditional use property.

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The surrounding area is mostly residential, with the Woodland Hills subdivision nearby on the opposite side of the road and other residences in the immediate area.

County inspector Joel Hollowell said the Lafayette County Planning Commission decided the project met all the criteria, and recommended approval.

“As we went through the [approval] process, we felt that project fit all this criteria as spelled out in section 2105 of the zoning ordinance,” Hollowell said. “The wildcard is, the Board of Supervisors at any instance or conditional use, can require other conditions to make this compatible with the surrounding area.”

One of those conditions, however, is something that Hollowell said will benefit the entire community. Part of the requirements for a C1 property is the addition of a fire hydrant.

The fire hydrant is supposed to be a three-way hydrant connected to a 6-inch water line. However, because the surrounding area is residential, the water lines are only 4 inches wide.

Currently, there is only one fire hydrant near the cemetery, located on the opposite side of the road. Although the hydrant would not meet typical C1 regulations, fire coordinator Wes Anderson said granting a variance would be a good thing.

“It’s certainly not ideal, but it would be a benefit to all surrounding properties to have a 4-inch, two-way fire hydrant,” Anderson said.

Another project approved by the supervisors was the construction of Stewart Farms Organic Fresh Farmers Market. The market will be located on Highway 6, 5 miles west of Oxford, and unlike other local markets, will feature a completely self-contained aquaponic operation.

One of the main concerns of the supervisors regarded the market’s location as a commercial medium-density use, or C2, within an agricultural, or A1, zone. The A1 zone does allow for commercial-use properties, but supervisor Chad McLarty expressed concern about how the organic market and aquaponic operation would be affected by surrounding farms.

“I’ve had conversations with some of the surrounding landowners, one in particular who has a pretty good sized farming operation and cattle ranch. He had serious concerns with the organic side of it,” McLarty said. “I’m not opposed to it and he’s not opposed to it, but we are worried that, with his continued farm operation, he is spraying herbicide and pesticide, and I hope they’re very aware of this.”

Lee Stewart, owner of Stewart Farms, said everything would be contained and other farmers spraying chemicals will not be an issue.

Other concerns were raised about the need for screening and buffering along the length of the building that runs near the highway. The supervisors voted to approve the project, on the condition that the developers plant vegetative screening along the portion of the building that will face Highway 6.

Other items approved on the agenda included:

• Authorizing the transferring of state aid funds to complete a microsealing project along certain county roads.

• Approval of change order number 2, deduction of $52,787.50 for the West Oxford Loop project.

• Approval of application for the FY2017 Safer Grant for fire department staffing.

• Approval of contract with Greenserve for purchase of property in the Industrial Park.

For more information or to view the minutes for this meeting, visit