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Despite surplus, new housing complex in development

<p>Miami is set issue tens of millions of dollars in refunds to students in light of the novel coronavirus.</p>

Miami is set issue tens of millions of dollars in refunds to students in light of the novel coronavirus.

By Maddie Wood, Senior Staff Writer

Although Miami University's population is increasing, many off-campus residences remain vacant, leaving a housing surplus within Oxford.

According to a spreadsheet from the city of Oxford, 7,200 rental properties are available in the Oxford area, and as of April 1, 2015, only 61.8 percent of those properties are being rented.

Despite the empty residences, Trinitas Ventures, a housing development group, has proposed the construction of a student housing community called The Fields at Southpointe, at the intersection of Southpointe Parkway and 27 South, across from Level 27 Apartments.

This community would turn roughly 37 acres of land into 85 residential lots, most likely duplexes, to be used for student housing.

Some residents aren't happy about these plans.

"If [Trinitas] ignores student housing surplus, they disregard true community needs," said Oxford resident Kathleen Zien at a city council meeting April 21. "Oxford isn't desperate to develop 37 acres. Trinitas is."

Trinitas is based out of Lafayette, Indiana, and has built student-housing communities in nine other states. This would be Trinitas' first development in Ohio; however, they have proposed plans in Oxford before.

Bayer Becker, an engineering firm in Oxford, is assisting Trinitas with the plans.

The plans were initially presented to the planning commission at a community meeting March 10, where members expressed their concerns with the plans.

These concerns included poor traffic during construction, environmental effects and the lack of need for more student housing. After debating, the commission denied the plans 2-5-0.

The plans have been adjusted to ease traffic and eliminate parking, but they still haven't addressed many other concerns. Trinitas insists that since their plans are up to code, there is not much to change.

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After being denied, Trinitas took the issue to city council, where they were met with mixed reviews.

"There is nothing [in the plans] any citizen I have talked to or listened to in this chamber wants or likes," said Vice Mayor Kate Rousmaniere.

Mayor Kevin McKeehan disagrees.

"I've only spoken to three people who are opposed to this development in Oxford. However, I have had quite a few people wonder why this is happening. People are mostly bewildered - I haven't seen a ton of opposition," he said.

Although there is doubt as to whether more student housing is necessary, McKeehan said The Fields at Southpointe has potential to be successful.

"There are surpluses in Oxford [other than student housing] that are doing fine," McKeehan said. "We have various Chinese and Mexican restaurants and those are all successful. I don't think it's government's role to dictate what people can find as a business."

After two hearings, a decision has not yet been reached, but the council is set to vote on the development again at a city council meeting May 5.