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First Baptist Church granted request for gated entries to parking lots

The Oxford Planning Commission approved a request from the First Baptist Church to install electronic gates at all of their parking lot entrances on Monday.

The request comes after church staff members expressed concerns with the public’s use of the church owned parking lot. In the application submitted to the commission it stated ‘with the city expanding areas of paid parking, people are choosing the free and open parking of First Baptist’s parking lots.’

The application went on to state Ole Miss students use the parking lot then walk or ride their bike to campus. The church also noted employees of businesses on the Square and people who were going to the federal courthouse were also using their parking lots.

“They’re building a parking garage and everybody parks in our parking (lot),” said Robert Allen the church’s administrative pastor. “The city put in parking meters and we have free parking. We don’t control the access to our parking lots so this will give us some control.”

The main parking lot connected to the church building, located at 800 Van Buren Avenue, and the parking lot across the street behind Rebel Bookstore will have electronic gates installed at each point of entry.

The gates will be closed at all times, which required a special exception by the commission, which was approved during Monday’s monthly meeting. The commission also required that the church be responsible for the gates and emergency operation of them. If there are two reported instances in a 12-month period of inaccessibility to the gates by the city police, fire public works the permit will be revoked.

In November the Oxford Board of Alderman denied an appeal made by the church to build a new parking lot after the initial request was denied in September by the Oxford Planning Commission. Members of the board said the appeal was denied because the parking lot would affect the surrounding neighborhood.