Thursday, April 8, 2004

Oxford delays decision on Wal-Mart gas station

By Jon Gambrell
Enquirer contributor

OXFORD - Plans for a gas station at a proposed Wal-Mart Supercenter are on hold after a contentious City Council debate.

The 12-pump Murphy USA gas station is proposed for the southeast corner of a new Wal-Mart Supercenter. The supercenter, along College Corner Pike on the northwest outskirts of town, has drawn criticism from council members and residents.

Initially discussing traffic concerns, the debate quickly turned to aesthetics as Councilman Doug Ross questioned whether the gas station would include enough trees, bushes and other landscaping.

"It would be practically like the current Wal-Mart, which is just a paved-over mess," he said. "It is quite strange to have an Arbor Day proclamation, then look at this god-awful mess."

Murphy USA, owned by Arkansas-based Murphy Oil Corp., has more than 600 gas stations in Wal-Mart Supercenter parking lots throughout the country.

Mayor Jerome U. Conley said: "I'm offended that people believe we're trying to pull the okie-dokie on them. Wal-Mart is a permitted use. If people didn't want to see it rezoned, they shouldn't have voted for it."

After a heated debate between members, council voted 4-3 to put off the decision for 30 days

"The people of Oxford are tired of out-of-towners coming in and doing whatever they want," Ross said.

In other action, council approved allowing citizen volunteers to issue certain types of parking citations to allow police officers to concentrate on more-serious crimes. While some council members expressed concern about volunteers abusing their power, the ordinance passed 5-2.


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