County Board of Supervisors approves development agreement for Deer Run subdivision following contentious meeting

Published 2:21 pm Wednesday, September 7, 2022

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a development agreement for the Deer Run subdivision on Tuesday following a contentious meeting that saw multiple members of the community voice their opposition to the project.

The subdivision, which is run by developer Jed Morris, has been in the early stages of expansion for over a year, but residents raised concerns about the lack of communication between Morris and the community his project will impact.

“Today—just now is the first time myself or anybody in our particular neighborhood has had any conversations in about 12 months about this issue,” said Chris McAlilly, a resident of the subdivision. “We fully support his ability to [develop his property] without affecting the integrity of our neighborhood, the safety of our roads or the infrastructure of the county.”

Residents of the subdivision also expressed concerns about construction vehicles using narrow residential streets to access the new development and an overall shift in the integrity of the neighborhood due to increased traffic.

“Our roads are residential. They’re narrow, they’re full of children and wildlife. They’re not meant to be through roads,” said one resident.

Another point of contention between residents and the developer was a possible connection to Buddy East Parkway, which Morris pointed to as a means of reducing traffic in the neighborhood.

Residents were quick to point out that a desire to connect the subdivision to Buddy East Parkway does not necessarily mean it will happen however.

“My big fear is that an agreement will go through and things will start to happen without [access to] Buddy East [Parkway] in hopes of—in a pipe dream that somewhere down the road it will and if not, then we’re stuck,” said another resident.

Board President Mike Roberts argued that the potential downfalls of the project do not outweigh the benefit it will bring to the community—pointing out that Morris agreed to donate a portion of the land to the county for the construction of a new vocational technical school that will serve both Oxford and Lafayette school districts.

“What we try to do is find some common ground—something that would benefit all,” Roberts said. “I’ve seen a willingness [from Morris] to work with us—it just happens to be through the avenue of a school and that’s pretty big for me. And it wasn’t a quid pro quo—you know, ‘you gotta give us this for a school.’ As a matter of fact, that was made very clear to me that his support and willingness to help with vo-tech education in this county will continue regardless of what we decide to do here.”

The board voted 3-2 in favor of the development agreement—with Roberts, District 1 supervisor Brent Larson and District 2 supervisor Larry Gillespie voting to approve while District 3 supervisor David Rikard and District 4 supervisor Chad McLarty served as the dissenting votes.