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Supervisors approve overlay design for Old Taylor Road PUD

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved the initial plans for a Planned Urban Development that will be constructed between Old Taylor Road and South Lamar Boulevard over the next 15 to 20 years.

With a unanimous approval by the Board, the 855-acre development, called “Julep,” is one of the largest proposed projects in Lafayette County in recent years. With the overlay designs now approved by the county’s Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors, the steps toward drafting site plans for the project can begin. That process could take up to a year or longer, according to Lafayette County building inspector Joel Hollowell.

“There was a concept submitted and (the developers) would be expected to conform substantially to that concept,” Hollowell told the EAGLE in June. “There could be some variations, slightly, one way or the other. They’re probably a year away from coming to us for approval of any phases whatsoever. They’ve got a lot of questions to answer.”

The vote by the Supervisors was tabled by District 4 supervisor Chad McLarty during the July 15 meeting, after he said he wanted to speak with members of the community who had questions and concerns pertaining to development. McLarty motioned to un-table the discussion during Monday’s meeting.

“I’ve had the opportunity to speak with some of the surrounding neighbors, and I’ve also met with the developer personally, and at this time I have no issue with making the motion to approve the PUD,” McLarty said. “I’ve actually talked to the developer that at some point and time, once the actual site plans start coming back and once we see the traffic studies, that we will have to have a rooftop number of homes. We’ll have to sit down and come up with that number.”

The development currently has plans for constructing 1,900 residences.

Ahead of a vote being taken, District 1 supervisor Kevin Frye presented a graph that showed the Total Assessed Value of Lafayette County, Oxford City Schools and Lafayette County Schools. The graphic stated the county’s value was between $700,000 and $800,000, and the schools inside Oxford’s city limits had a value of nearly $600,000. Where there was a great discrepancy in the chart was the value of schools in Lafayette County, which had a listed value of nearly $200,000 and had shown little increase in value over the past seven years.

“I see it as our responsibility, in part, to be looking out for the best interests of our county school district,” Frye said. “If we don’t have development in the county schools, you will see (the Oxford and Lafayette lines) getting farther and farther apart. (Oxford’s) line is going up a lot faster than (Lafayette’s), so if we don’t have development in the county school district you’re going to continue to see the school district fall farther and farther behind as far as their ability to keep up financially.”

Residents and other members of the community were in attendance during Monday’s meeting and voiced their concerns. Campbell McCool was one of those people who had concerns, but also stated he was in support of the development. McCool developed the Plein Air community in Taylor, which can be reached from Oxford via Old Taylor Road. His biggest concern was what kind of stress the added traffic flow would have on the road.

As part of the recently approved joint LOU Transportation Plan, Old Taylor Road is scheduled to be widened and improved within the next five years. The traffic plan also categorized Old Taylor Road as currently “at capacity.”

“The largest project to ever take place in Lafayette County (is scheduled to take place) on a road that is currently at capacity,” McCool said. “As someone who travels Old Taylor Road daily and frequently sits there in traffic that’s not moving, I’m kind of shocked at this board’s kind of cavalier approach towards that. We’re just going to kind of sorta be ‘Yeah, down the road we’re going to need to address that.’ That’s just, I think, irresponsible. I’m for this project. I think it’s fantastic, but I think it’s incredibly naive to just sort of kick the can down the road and say ‘somewhere down the road we’re going to need to address that.'”

Other residents who live along Old Taylor Road also spoke out, echoing McCool’s sentiments of being in favor of the project but also worried about developing it on a road that has already been categorized as “at capacity.”

McLarty acknowledged it would be a “traffic issue” and that Old Taylor Road is a “terrible road at times” in the morning and afternoon, but said the Board will continue to work with the City of Oxford and the LOU Transportation Plan to address those issues.The developers have also stated their intentions to build a $4 million connector road between Old Taylor and South Lamar Blvd. at some point to help alleviate traffic flow.

McLarty made the motion to approve the PUD and Frye seconded the motion.