Alderman seeks change to preservation code

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OXFORD, Miss. (AP) — An Oxford alderman wants to allow someone to submit a landscape plan with a request to demolish a building with a requirement that property stay in green space for four years.

About two years ago, First Baptist Church wanted to demolish a dilapidated building on its property and replace it with green space. The preservation ordinance at the time required all property owners seeking demolition inside the preservation district to present plans for what would be built in place of the demolished structure.

There was nothing that allowed for a landscape plan only to be considered.

The Oxford Historic Preservation Commission had no choice but to deny the demolition since it was not a health and safety concern and the church appealed it to the aldermen and gained approval.

The ordinance was then changed to allow developers to apply for certificate of appropriateness for demolition with only having to submit a landscape plan in its place.

Alderman Jay Hughes told The Oxford Eagle (http://bit.ly/1iUvKSU ) some developers are taking advantage of the change. He said they seek approval of a demolition with a landscape plan and then shortly after, they come back to the commission with something to build on the same property.

"It's led to a bit of speculation when the developer comes to ask for a demolition as to what exactly will be put back in its place before the commission can decide whether or not to approve the demolition," Hughes said.

Hughes' proposal will allow someone to submit a landscape plan with a demolition request, but they must sign a restrictive covenant on the property that would transfer even if the land was sold, saying nothing but the landscape plan will be put on that property for at least 48 months.

"If someone really wants it to be green space then they have to commit to that 48 months," Hughes said.

Commercial developments on the Square won't be affected by the change in ordinance.

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Information from: Oxford Eagle, http://www.oxfordeagle.com

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