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COLUMN: Speak out on Vision 2037 plan

Many residents of Oxford have participated in talks for the last several months regarding the proposed Vision 2037 comprehensive plan for the city of Oxford. This plan is being done in conjunction with the city’s bicentennial celebration in 2037.

The Orion Planning Group, who is being led by Bob Barber on this project, was contracted back in the spring to revamp the city’s long-range comprehensive plan. Our city leaders adopted the last comprehensive plan, Vision 2020 in 1999, under the leadership of former Mayor Richard Howorth.

The growth we are experiencing in Oxford and Lafayette County is staggering. From infrastructure, city services and other amenities provided by our governments, planning for the future has never been more important.

People need to realize that the Vision 2037 idea is simply a plan to help rewrite codes and help our city and its leaders make the best use of what land is left within the city limits. Presently, there is only 5 percent of vacant land left within the city limits.

The ideas of this plan include:

•Preserve and replicate Oxford’s historic development patterns (place types—rural, traditional and suburban

•Combat sprawl

•Preserve the environment

•Multi-model transportation (complete streets)

•Improve and add city gateways

This is a plan that will be the roadmap per say for the foreseeable future. It is something that needs to be looked at annually and tweaked to make sure that everything is taken into consideration and changes are made as needed.

According to Barber, “The purpose of the draft is to be refined, it is meant to receive comment, and it’s meant to test ideas, to get the concepts on the table and so forth.” To me, it’s about controlling growth within the city limits and making the best use of the remaining undeveloped land.

The plan itself is 137 pages long and is quite a challenge to read for the ordinary person. During so many of the meetings that I have attended, it is refreshing to see how diverse our community is.  Everyone has an opinion regarding pathways, affordable workforce housing, zoning and so many other issues.

Residents need to realize that unless their neighborhood wants a change in their zoning codes, this plan doesn’t change their zoning. There are possible areas within the plan that are outlined as possible annexation areas outside of the present city limits just as there were with the Vision 2020 plan.

The purpose of the public hearings and open meetings is to present these ideas to our community and receive public input. The ideas that are presented are just that and are meant to be refined as needed during these planning sessions.

Our city planning team of Andrea Correll, Katrina Hourin, Bart Robinson and Ben Requet along with Mayor Pat Patterson are to be commended for their numerous hours working with the Orion Planning Group in mapping out this strategic plan. The Vision 2037 advisory committee has spent countless hours in meetings making sure this is a plan that is right for our residents.

There will be more public meetings in October and early November. If you want to have a voice in the future of Oxford, attend one of these meetings and become involved. A draft copy of Vision 2037 is available on the City website homepage, the reference department of the library and at the planning department.

Speak out now and let’s protect our community. We need to make sure that our children and grandchildren enjoy the Oxford that we all have come to love.

Tim Phillips is publisher of the Oxford EAGLE. Contact him at tim.phillips@oxfordeagle.com.