Aldermen deny exception for unmanned guardhouse

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, October 11, 2023

On Tuesday, Oct. 4, the Oxford Board of Aldermen revisited an appeal for a special exception request by Corr Properties, LLC and CB Holdings, LLC. The appeal follows a unanimous 6-0 denial by the planning commission on Aug. 14, with Paxton Scott filing the appeal on behalf of the applicants on Aug. 18.

The discussion traces back to September 2022, when more than 100 residents from the Grove at Grand Oaks petitioned for a gated entry and a faux guardhouse to address safety concerns. The revised request now seeks approval for an unmanned guardhouse near the intersection of Industrial Park Drive and OUS Drive, proposing a 10-foot by 10-foot structure with an 81-square-foot interior constructed of brick with glass windows, a shingled roof and two operable doors.

In tandem, the Oxford Police Department plans to move its headquarters to the nearby Oxford Enterprise Center, while the Oxford School District has repurposed the former Oxford University School (OUS) site for administrative use.

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Various concerns were raised during the hearings, primarily focusing on the guardhouse’s location, its effectiveness in enhancing security, potential future manning, its proximity to the new police headquarters, and its impact on traffic, particularly with the increase in nonresidential traffic due to the nearby police and school district facilities.

Public input played a crucial role in the deliberations. Some proponents of the guardhouse aimed to “deter people who didn’t live in the neighborhood from using their streets,” citing nonresident cut-through traffic and speeding toward Highway 7 as significant concerns.

During the August planning commission hearing, Milam underscored that city streets are public avenues, questioning the targeted deterrence of the guardhouse and its potential impact on public perception of access to the area.

A resident voiced his frustration over the police department’s alleged refusal to supply additional patrols and radar coverage, even offering to fund night-time patrols in the neighborhood.

Alderman Holsey moved to approve the special exception, but Mayor Robyn Tannehill announced the motion’s failure with a four to three vote following a second motion.