Published on January 27th, 2016 | by Brittain Thompson0
City of Oxford Plans for Large Growth
Oxford, Miss. (TLV) – Oxford’s growth is a topic discussed by everyone from out-of-state students to long-settled townies. As the town expands, so do its needs for both residential and commercial development.
City Planner Andrea Correll sat down with us to discuss Oxford’s citywide comprehensive plan to address a “number of critical issues.”
The plan to fulfill these needs is outlined in the city of Oxford’s Vision 2037 plan. The presentation, nearly 80 pages long, shows the city’s plan to expand as well as redesign existing infrastructure.
“What’s happening is Oxford doesn’t have a lot of vacant space left,” said Correll. “We estimate there is 10% left.”
A specific type of housing is under scrutiny due to their abundant use of land and perceived focus of “quantity over quality,” according to the Vision 2037 plan.
“There’s a zoning category called RC, and that’s what most of the complexes are on Old Taylor,” said Correll.
According to the city plan, currently 57% of active developments in Oxford are categorized as RC, multi-family complexes primarily targeting students. The city officials’ concern stems from an obvious focus on quantity but says little of quality from multi-family housing developers.
“We have figured out what the percentage of growth is,” said Correll. “Our consultants have found that we have, right now, more multi-family units under construction, or approved, than we need. We have a surplus of about 200 units.”
With only 10% of land vacant, the city has begun placing restrictions and regulating standards of all zoning categories while still working towards infrastructure to satisfy what they predict to be a nearly 40,000 population by 2030.
A large concern is also on managing population density, especially in areas included in the neighborhood conservation overlay.
“We didn’t want the same density in old town,” said Correll. “In the historic districts and a little outside, there’s an area called neighborhood conservation…it has different standards.”
These standards are in place to essentially deter RC developers from seeking approval to develop in what are seen as Oxford’s historic, family-friendly districts. Protecting neighborhood infrastructure is a concern frequently reminded in the city’s plan.
“If you have an RC development in the historic district, it does not have the same yield as in the suburbs,” said Correll.
The limits impact the amount of bedrooms you can have in single [traditional house], double [duplex housing], and multi-family residential units. Effectively, this will avoid any further cases of RC developments “looming over the square,” said Correll.
The vision2037 plan also places a large focus on creating “complete streets,” which entails streets that facilitate driving, walking, and biking. This is building towards what they call inclusionary planning that meets the needs of Oxford’s diverse population.
Complimenting these complete streets will be “urban centers.” These centers are intended to be infrastructures already in place that will be retrofitted to match the design aesthetic of the Square.
Included in the comprehensive plan is an example, using Mid Town Shopping Center, of how the retrofit will impact preexisting infrastructures.
The vision2037 plan does not make note of how costs for retrofitting the preexisting infrastructures will be handled or what enforcements will be made to ensure uniform design considering that targeted areas are likely to be privately owned.