Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Lawsuit leads to land development on Rt. 27

By Kyle Hayden, Design Editor

After threats of a lawsuit against the City of Oxford, a new housing development is on its way to city council for approval.

On Tuesday, the Oxford Planning Commission forwarded a recommendation for Oxford City Council to approve a 194-unit, 668-bed "Planned United Development" (PUD) on 37 acres of vacant land on Southpointe Parkway, adjacent to the Level 27 apartments.

The planning commission does not have authority to grant final approval to land developments, but sends a recommendation to Oxford City Council to approve or reject a given proposal. A four-to-two majority approved the PUD Tuesday evening, which is still in the preliminary design stages.

"This is a case with a long history, and lately had a cloud of litigation looming over it," said David Prytherch, chairman of the Planning Commission.

In March, Trinitas Ventures, the developer of the project, sent an application to the City of Oxford for a PUD on the "Fields at Southpointe." The Planning Commission reviewed, gave their opinion and recommended a rejection by City Council. The rejection was made in May.

The developer, based in Lafayette, Indiana, had proceeded into mediation in a lawsuit against the City of Oxford and the Commission for the Council's rejection of their original proposal for a PUD on Southpointe Parkway in May 2015, according to Planning Commission documents.

Trinitas asserted the Council's rejection was "arbitrary or capricious."

"[This] development was built on a lie," said Kathleen Zien, an Oxford resident at the Commission meeting on Sept. 8. "They've been here twice … three times is not necessarily the charm."

Zien asserted that the developer, under the direction of Travis Vencel, initially stated their desire to create a "tech park" but then the land was re-zoned to "R2A," a residential code.

After an annexation by the City of Oxford and a decision by the Council, the developer came in with plans for a subdivision, then a PUD and now the final PUD, that was approved by the Planning Commission.

"With the legal gun to my head … I will vote 'yes,'" Prytherch said.

Enjoy what you're reading?
Signup for our newsletter