By Alyssa Schnugg
First Baptist Church won’t be “tearing down paradise to put up a parking lot” anytime soon.
The Oxford Board of Aldermen denied a request Tuesday from First Baptist Church to overturn a decision by the Historic Preservation Commission to deny the church from making a parking lot out of an empty lot on Van Buren Avenue, across the street from the church.
The HPC denied the request in September saying a parking lot in the middle of a residential area would interrupt the flow of the neighborhood.
The property is zoned Traditional Neighborhood Residential and parking lots are permitted in the zoning; however, all projects inside the city’s historic preservation districts must be granted a Certificate of Appropriateness from the HPC.
The city’s planning department recommended approval for the parking lot since it did meet the city’s landscaping guidelines and is an appropriate use of the land.
However, Alderman Janice Antonow said she didn’t think a parking lot in the middle of a residential area is appropriate.
The property is currently an undeveloped lot that one had an old home that was demolished in 2011.
HPC chair Sarah Frances Hardy said the role of the HPC was to preserve neighborhoods.
“We really don’t want people tearing down a historic home and thinking it’s OK to replace it with a parking lot,” she said at the meeting.
The property next to the lot is zoned Neighborhood Business.
The request to overturn the HPC’s denial was denied by the aldermen in a 4 to 2 vote. Aldermen Mark Huelse and Ulysses “Coach” Howell voted to overturn the decision.