Lafayette County Puts Condo Development On Hold
Early Tuesday morning, the Lafayette County Planning Commission decided to put the development of a condominium on Old Taylor Road on hold, according to the Oxford Eagle. Shane Cardwell, a local engineer, had the bright idea of constructing a condominium with 14 units, though that plan was stifled when it’s variance was denied by commission members.
Oxford is a college town, though it is unlike many other college towns in terms of the ratio of students to non-students. According to suburbanstats.org, Oxford has a total population of 18,916 people, while the total population of undergraduate students at the University of Mississippi this past fall was 24,248, according to olemiss.edu. Most of these undergraduate students do not fall under the category of Oxford residents because of their lack of legitimate residency in the city, so given these statistics that means that for every 78 non-students in Oxford there are 100 students. For comparison, the undergraduate population at Auburn is 21,786 while the population of the city of Auburn is 53,380. That means the student to non-student ratio is 41:100, which speaks to the Oxford’s dependency on the university to populate the city. Also, Oxford has an unemployment rate of 6.7%, while the United States as a whole has an unemployment rate of 4.4% as of April 2017
Given all of this knowledge, it seems that there would be no reason for the city to decline the construction of new housing units in a city that already contains so many; especially a complex with only 14 units. As of August, The Hub’s occupancy rate was estimated to be less than 50%. That is not ideal for an apartment complex that had almost every room rented out the year prior. Granted this is an apartment complex rather than a condominium, and these are college students and not long term residents. This lack of residency can be attributed to the construction of new complexes such as Gather and The Domain, or to many students’ inclination to live within walking distance of the Oxford Square. These houses that are being rented out to students don’t play into the lack of affordable housing as much as the construction of new apartment complexes because the houses are not being purchased, but rented.
The conflict that brought about the declination of Cardwell’s proposal was how he was planning on supplying water to the unit. Cardwell was planning on having an onsite well due to the fact that the site was equidistant from the Oxford water supply and Taylor Water Association. When asked if he had spoken with either of said water providers, and engineer from Lafayette County named Larry Britt states that Cardwell, “said there had been questions regarding water pressure and flow issues if they connected with Taylor Water Association.” Thus, the County Fire Coordinator’s denial of the granting of a fire protection variance due to the lack of a set water supply. After substantial debate, the commission has come to a consensus to table the proposition.