OXFORD, Ga. – The Oxford City Council heard a request from the city’s Planning Commission at Monday night’s meeting to reconsider its denial of a proposal to turn a city-owned grassy area along Whatcoat Street into a parking lot for the college.
Three members — Jim Windham, Dr. Melvin Baker and Sarah Davis — with Mayor Jerry Roseberry casting the tie-breaking vote, voted 4-3 Sept. 18 to deny the request.
With Baker absent from the Monday meeting, Jeff Wearing, vice chairman of the commission and a candidate for Post 6 on the council this fall, read a resolution from Planning Commission Chairman Jonathan Eady to members of the council asking for the issue to be reconsidered.
Kendra Mayfield, who works for Oxford College of Emory University, told members at last month’s meeting that Council Member David Eady suggested the plan to the college after a plan she initially proposed to allow parking on the right of way on Whatcoat Street at an August work session was not supported by the council.
“There was not support of that design and Councilman Eady suggested a different design that would push it back a bit more and create a mirrored presentation of that parking lot and we are fine to proceed with that,” she said at the time.
The resolution outlined several reasons for requesting the reconsideration, including suggesting the proposed parking lot will be a more efficient use of the Whatcoat Street right of way and Allen Memorial Methodist Church will receive the desired parking spaces at a location that will make the church building more accessible.
The resolution also suggested that the proposed parking lot would provide greater access for visitors to the city’s future downtown development along Emory Street.
Wearing said the planning commission had already approved an application from the college to turn property it owns at 107 Pierce St. (the Forney property) into parking, “despite concerns that the parking lot would be located in much less desirable location.”
“The planning commission continues to favor the location in the Whatcoat Street right of way,” the resolution reads.
Several members of Allen Memorial Methodist Church voiced support for reconsidering the issue, saying the church needs additional parking.
“It’s not that nice of a park,” one member said. “It would definitely be better for the church. You could cross it from Whatcoat Street. The Pierce Street parking lot would not be that accessible from the church.”
“I think Emory has proposed some beautiful options and they are proposing investing in our city. I really appreciate the work they’ve put forth and the offers they have made,” another said, “and I think it’s a great benefit to our church.