Commission allows car business, but not cars

Published 9:14 am Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Panola County’s effort to maintain the appearance and regulate the business environment of the Highway 6 frontage known as the Oxford-Batesville Corridor reached another level last week when an Oxford man was granted permission to open a used car business with some restrictions, mainly that he may not display vehicles for sale.

Unusual as it seems, the Panola County Land Development Commission gave approval for the property at 28215-A Hwy. 6, east of Batesville near the Panola-Lafayette line to be used for auto sales under the name of Oxford Imports.

Justin Robison made application to the commission to open Oxford Imports at the location, which is a small mini-storage building with roll-up doors located on the south side of the highway. The blue building, sitting about 100 yards off the highway surrounded by a hurricane fence, is a familiar site to regular travelers between the two cities.

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Robison said the mini-storage is family property that has not been used for decades, and is perfect for an office of a used car business. Robison, who has other business in Lafayette County, told board members he wants to locate and sell used vehicles as a side business, and expects to sell fewer than 20 cars a year.

State laws governing car dealerships specify that Robison would need a physical address with storage capability to conduct legal automobile sales. His business plan would entail locating used vehicles as requested by customers, purchasing the cars, and reselling them with a modest markup.

Robison said he has no interest in buying vehicles for display to car shoppers, and would rely on word of mouth and requests for help finding cars for friends and acquaintances.

The Land Commission members were satisfied with Robison’s plan, but warned that his approval would be revoked if cars were seen from the highway.

He assured the board he would not have cars displayed, but did ask for permission to store purchased vehicles inside the building and out of view in instances when customers would take more than a day to sign paperwork and complete a transaction.

Robison also agreed the Oxford Imports sign would be small, attached to the building, and not be an advertisement for used cars.

In other business, the Land Commission gave approval to the following:

  • Anthony Harris was given permission to open Best Burger Steakhouse, a restaurant located at 12527 Hwy. 6W, adjacent to North Delta School property. The building has housed restaurants before, the last being Cowboy’s Steakhouse about eight years ago. Harris was given permission to open from 6 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. No beer sales are allowed, and patrons may not bring their own beer, wine, or liquor, commissioners said.
  • A 4.54 acre parcel of land on the northwest corner of Tubbs Road was reclassified from agricultural to residential at the request of Chad Tidwell for CT Investments, LLC. Tidwell told the board he plans to build 13 small homes for rental property at the location. In further developments after the Monday, Oct. 11 meeting, Tidwell learned the City of Batesville’s aldermen had voted a moratorium on new residential construction on property outside the city limits, but close enough to be eligible for city utilities. Tidwell’s property on Tubbs Road lies in the county by just a couple of feet. He was expected to address the Mayor and Board of Aldermen at their Tuesday, Oct. 19, meeting.
  • Approved a cemetery for New Beginnings Community Church, located at 1062 Plum Point Rd., in Pope, on a half-acre piece of property adjacent to the church building. The request was made by Dale Copeland and was approved unanimously.
  • Michele Neal was given permission to resell household items and sundries she buys at storage unit auctions under a tent at 8967 Hwy. 51S, in the parking lot of the M&M convenience store.
  • Approved an application by Brad Workman to open and operate Workman’s Auto, a repair business.