Established 1826 — Oldest College Newspaper West of the Alleghenies

Overlay districts to benefit local families

Oxford residents push to limit student housing

By Katherine Boyce, For The Miami Student

Oxford residents are making attempts to limit student housing in up to eight areas, which could potentially lead to challenges for students living off campus.

These new areas are called overlay districts. They are put in place to limit the number of unrelated residents allowed to live in a single house, with the result of keeping students out.

"Unrelated residents sharing a home typically have different lives," Oxford community development planner Sam Perry said. "Which generates more activity than families do."

In 2012, Oxford city council approved legislation that would empower residents to ask for these overlay districts. Neighbors must come together to create a petition, go through multiple public meetings, and finally be approved by city council. Not much action has occurred following these changes, until now.

"It might become more of an issue as freshman classes keep getting bigger," Junior Emma Hennon, who lives off campus, said. "They just built new dorms, so they probably will need to start expanding off campus housing too."

According to Miami University's website, there were 15,460 undergraduates enrolled for Fall 2013 on the Oxford campus, and the U.S. Census Bureau estimated 21,470 permanent residents in that same year. Students sometimes can feel like they are the only ones living in Oxford, but there are actually 28 percent more residents than students, and they are now starting to have an impact on Oxford's housing dynamic.

The first area to complete the process and be approved as an overlay district is the neighborhood of Joseph Drive and Contreras Drive. The residents in the Cedar Drive neighborhood followed shortly behind. This second district is the only one on the east side of campus.

"It creates the opportunity for a grassroots effort," Perry said.

The majority of these efforts are taking place west of Locust Street. Two more areas have already been through the public meetings and are now planned to go to city council. There are an additional four districts beginning the initial steps, and have completed their first public meeting.

This means students could be restricted from as many as eight distinct areas very soon. The good news for students is that if a person in one of the new overlay districts already has a rental permit, they will be grandfathered in, meaning it can remain a rental property.

According to Perry, the main reason for having these overlay districts is to help maintain the traditional character of the neighborhood.

"It's kind of a reasonable thing because I could see how families wouldn't want a bunch of college kids being disruptive," Hennon said.