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City rejects request to renovate Tylertown

The Batesville Mayor and Board of Aldermen has denied the special exception request of real estate developer Woody Loden to transform the Tylertown Plaza shopping center/office complex into a series of small apartments.

Loden had the approval of the city’s Planning Commission to make about 21 apartments – one and two bedrooms – at the location on Woodland Road, just off Hwy. 6 behind the KFC store. He told commission members he hoped to fill the apartments with college students expected to enroll at The Concourse, currently under construction at the site of the old Factory Stores outlet mall.

The Northwest Mississippi Community College satellite site, which will serve as a workforce development center in conjunction with area industry, is expected to open next fall.

After receiving initial approval, Loden appeared before the city board earlier this month, outlining his plans to convert the office spaces into a mixed use development, remodeling for apartments in the spaces that are currently empty.

At the public hearing in opposition to Loden’s plan was Lent Thomas, who brought a petition with 97 signatures from area property owners and residents of Woodland Rd. and the Dogwood Hills subdivision.

Thomas told board members he and others oppose the changing of the Tylertown Plaza property use to allow for apartments because they believed it would lower property values generally, and could possibly be an unattractive part of the city.

Thomas said with no landscaping plans, and no guarantee that children’s toys and barbecue grills would not be seen from Woodland Rd., he thought the city would best be served by denying the application.

Loden told the board he intended to install landscaping and fencing as the development of apartments continued, but that his plans for the first one or two remodels did not include exterior upgrades. He said if aldermen were concerned about the future of the property, they should allow him to develop one or two apartments at the property until they were satisfied the project would be a positive addition to the area.

Thomas countered that allowing one apartment there was the same as allowing all 21 spaces to be developed and said his opposition would not waver even if just one apartment was allowed.

The board told Loden they would take the matter under advisement and revisit the request at a later meeting, but later at the same gathering brought the discussion up again and took a vote on the proposition. Aldermen Bobby Walton was the single vote against denying the request.

Loden can bring the matter before the city again, but hasn’t yet made a new application to the Code Office.