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Oxford’s High Point Coffee appeals to Lafayette County Supervisors to retain drive-thru service

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors and High Point Coffee were able to resolve an issue that had been brewing in recent weeks during last night’s meeting. 

A few months ago, High Point Coffee on the Square changed its name to Uptown Coffee. However, the High Point coffee bean roasting facility, located at 261 Highway 7 South, continued operations.

Wanting to maintain a local presence, owner Wren Greene and his team decided to start serving coffee out of a “coffee kiosk” attached to the Highway 7 location. Greene and his team notified the county of their plans, and he said they were told they could serve coffee as part of a nonconforming use in the residentially zoned area, as long as they did not expand the building or the services provided.

The solution to the high traffic they began experiencing, Greene said, was to install a drive-thru window that was, in his opinion, not an expansion of the building or technically an addition of services.

“Basically, the drive-thru was born out of the need to figure out how to get coffee to people without them being at risk because the coffee roasting and packaging facility just isn’t somewhere you’d want the general public,” Greene said. “So we built and started selling out the window and everything was fine until a couple of months went by and Joel Hollowell showed up, and he said he wanted to just look around and see what was going on.”

What Hollowell, the county’s building inspector, found was a few problems with the facility itself. To start, the business did not have an approved site plan.

While zoning is an issue, the concern here, Hollowell said, was that the lack of an approved site plan was in violation of the county’s former subdivision regulations, which were enacted in 2006.

Due to the findings of the investigation, the county told High Point to cease operations.

High Point formally appealed the zoning administrative decision last night, after encouraging customers via social media to contact their supervisors over the weekend.

Ahead of the appeal, Hollowell presented his recommendation, a solution that would allow High Point Coffee to be up and running once more while complying with county ordinances.

“What I’m here to propose is that we require High Point Coffee to come in and apply for a site plan review. Obviously, they would have to abide by the site plan that is decided upon,” Hollowell said. “That site plan is going to include some paving out through the rights-of-way, it’s going to include Health Department approvals. It would also include the enforcement of building codes. There are many portions of that building that are not in code compliance and they would be required to bring it up to code.”

He also recommended that the drive-thru window be included, as it would not change the site plan to a “great extent.” The business, which currently holds a food processing permit from the Health Department, will also be required to obtain a retail permit in order to meet the county’s requirements.

These recommendations are not special to High Point and are the same requirements other businesses have to follow, according to District 5 Supervisor Mike Roberts.

“I guess my position is, we’re not asking High Point Coffee to do anything different from anybody else. Whether there’s zoning in place or not, the issue is, commercial subdivision regulations have been in place, and we’re not asking anything special or giving any kind of exemption for them,”  Roberts said. “The drive-thru did not change the dynamics of the business as far as a logistics standpoint. Asking each business to be in compliance, I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

Greene said he agreed, and that he understood the Board of Supervisors’ requests and why the ordinances were in place.

Hollowell said he is requiring a June 1 deadline for High Point to present a site plan and obtain any remaining documents the business needs.

“The county has worked with us, they were willing to hear what we were trying to do, and I think they understood that we were trying to comply with the new zoning and that we were trying to do everything we could,” Greene said. “You want the people who are elected to represent the community to be on the side of the community. I was really happy with the way everything went, I really was.”

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