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City council addresses the abundance of Airbnb's in Oxford; OATS trail moves into a revised Stage Five

At their March 6 meeting, Oxford City Council discussed short-term rentals, sustainable energy and the Oxford Area Trail System.
At their March 6 meeting, Oxford City Council discussed short-term rentals, sustainable energy and the Oxford Area Trail System.

At the March 6 meeting, Oxford City Council pushed forward the advancement of the Oxford Area Trail System (OATS) into Stage V, while at the same time halting all development of new short-term rental homes within the city of Oxford.

In order to take a step closer to Oxford’s clean and sustainable energy initiative, council also approved a contract between the city manager and the electrification coalition in order to receive technical assistance related to electric vehicle infrastructure and policy, according to the staff report prepared by Sam Perry, community development director.

City council halts the development of any new short-term rental homes

Short-term rental homes, also known as Airbnb's, have been popping up all around Oxford over the last few years, with the sole purpose of renting out to families of students who visit Miami University during the school year. These homes are especially popular during parent’s weekend and various mom’s and dad’s weekends throughout the year.

However, council and members of the Oxford community have expressed concerns on what these houses could mean for Oxford’s already competitive housing market, especially if the houses are empty for the majority of the year with no permanent residence on the property.

Currently, there are nearly 50 Airbnb's within Oxford, mainly being owned, operated and used by parents of Miami students.

The moratorium will not affect any short-term rentals currently licensed and in operation. It is also unlikely that the moratorium will last six months; rather, it will continue until council can reach a decision on how to handle short-term rental regulation.

“I think we have a fair idea of what we want to do, so it’s good to hit the pause button so we can set regulations,” councilor David Prytherch said. “New policy would be very targeted to Airbnbs that are not accessory to a permanent use.”

A resolution placing a moratorium, not to exceed six months, on any new short-term rentals within Oxford was unanimously approved by council at the Tuesday meeting. Council will use this pause in new developments to determine the future of Airbnb's within Oxford by researching the dominance of them.

OATS project moves one step closer to completion

Oxford trails will see new developments as the OATS project moves into Stage Five after revision based on feedback from Oxford citizens. Concerns were raised regarding the trails cutting through private property on the northside of Oxford, running right in the backyard of homes.

The new proposal will still connect Talawanda High School to the middle school; however, now the trail will run closer to the woods on its northern route. Jessica Greene, assistant city manager, described this route as a better outcome for the trail.

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Despite satisfaction with the new route, the new plan will cost more than the initial route, adding an additional cost of $113,267 to the original $798,164 of the original mapped route. 

Prytherch said the increase of cost could have been avoided if council and staff would have taken into consideration citizen feedback sooner about the route. 

“If we had gone to the public with 30% of a plan instead of 60%, this plan would have been less expensive,” Prytherch said. 

City councilors adopted the new plan unanimously.

Council will meet again on Tuesday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Oxford Courthouse.