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City Council in the zone: Land's future up for debate

By Anna Hoffman
On April 15, 2014

Oxford City Council is in the midst of a debate over the use of 39 acres near Level 27 apartments. The land is currently dedicated to an office park, however, the council is considering rezoning it for residential purposes.

An office park, or Office and Light Industry (OI) as it is sometimes referred to in city council meetings, includes doctors and lawyers' offices, license bureaus and light industry.

The previous plans for this land included building a road from U.S. 27 to Four Mile Creek. This plan was never actualized and the owner of the land Scott Webb suggested the land be used for residential purposes as opposed to industrial or commercial business.

The Oxford City Council is still debating on what to do with the land, whether to leave it as an office park or rezone it for residential purposes.

On the one hand, some believe there is no demand in Oxford for an office park because of the remote location. On the other, other council members believe opening such a park will create more job opportunities.

"I am a little worried about suburban sprawl by having housing down by that area," city council member Edna Southard said. "We don't want to have uncontrolled building, we want development to be handled in a controlled kind of way and I think that you could have a lot of sprawl down there."

Southard said she believes the city is in need of something other than housing.

"And there are issues related to traffic patters, there are issues regarding economic development and what the city really needs," Southard said. "The city really seems to need more office space and not housing. And I have been thinking pretty hard about it."

One of Southard's concerns was the economy, and she hoped commercial space would bring more jobs. However, according to Mayor Kevin Mckeehan, regardless, if the land is sitting empty, it will not bringing in any economic benefits.

"There is a better shot of having something happen on that land if it changes to residential," city council member Steve Snyder said.

"Part of why this tech park idea didn't go is because there was supposed to be a road that goes through the entire complex that would hook route 27 and route 73 the road is not going to built now because there was a lot of opposite in the outlying communities and disturbing the rural nature of the township," Snyder said.

Another reason the road was not built was due to financial issues.

"The other issues is money," Mckeehan said. "Miami University and other legislators had successfully lobbied and got some earmarks. I think around 15 million, would have never completed it. We would have built a road to nowhere."

The city council will vote on this issue April 15. If the vote passes and the area becomes residential, the process will take a couple of months to complete.

"After that, it is up to the land owners," Snyder said.

Current mood surrounding the upcoming vote is that the city council members attitudes are equally split at this point. According to one council member, there have been very few issues amongst the council and almost all votes in the last two and a half years have been unanimous.

"I think its going to be very, very close," Mckeehan said.

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