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Oxford looks to expand borders

With its world-class restaurants, art galleries, performing arts centers and the hustle and bustle of the Square, Oxford feels like a thriving city and no longer just a small, “postage stamp of native soil.”

However, despite what it feels like, Oxford is quickly running out of room with only about 5 percent of land inside the city available to develop.

To create some more elbow room, city leaders are looking to expand the city’s boundaries once again.

During a work session Thursday, the Oxford Board of Aldermen discussed areas of Lafayette County that might be suitable for Oxford to annex into its borders.

Most of the aldermen agreed that the area northeast of the city, which encompasses areas like Brittany Woods and Oxford Commons is the No. 1 location to consider. Coming in a close second is land southwest of Oxford, around FNC Park.

“The Oxford Commons area is an area we’ve seen plans on, we know development is coming,” said City Engineer Robinson.

Alderwoman Robyn Tannehill agreed since the two areas are around the new roads the city is sharing costs with Lafayette County to build – West Oxford Loop extended which will open up close to FNC Park, and Sisk Avenue extended that runs through Oxford Commons and is slated to join either University Avenue or Highway 6 near Brittany Woods.

“Those are areas that are going boom and I’d like it to be built up to our regulations,” she said.

Alderwoman Janice Antonow said she’d like to see a good bit of “developable” land located in any area the city decides to attempt to annex.

“We need to annex some vacant land,” she said.

“That’s the only way we move toward more affordable housing,” Tannehill said.

Before the board can move on even considering any annexation, they agreed a conversation needed to be had with Mike Slaughter, owner of Slaughter and Associates in Oxford, an urban planning consultant firm.

Slaughter is a professional planner and will assist the board with land evaluation, gathering information and the legal process of annexation.

The last major annexation requested by the city of Oxford occurred in 2007 when the city expanded its limits south of town, around Belk Ford on the south side of Highway 6 West that included Thacker Road, The Links, Garden Terrace, the West Spring Hill neighborhood across the highway from Belk Ford and the Woodlawn subdivision.

It also included Rayner Road and areas near St. Andrews subdivision, a portion of Anchorage Road and parts of Old Sardis Road. Areas off Molly Barr Road, Old Taylor Road and the Grand Oaks subdivision just south of the city were also annexed.

That annexation added about 5,000 new residents and increased the city limits by 4.3 square miles which is now about 16 square miles.

In 2014, the city was approved to annex about 150 acres where the new Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi is being constructed. Also that year, another 160 acres known as Callicutt Farms, west of South Lamar Boulevard and just south of the new hospital, was annexed into the city. Both were annexed at the request of the property owners.

Lafayette County Board of Supervisors President Jeff Busby said Friday that county officials knew annexation requests from the city were imminent.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Busby said. “I think a lot of people living within a couple miles of the city probably want to be annexed.”

The county is 671 square miles.

“There’s amenities the city can offer since we have to cover so much more land,” Busby said. “The city has garbage pick-up two days a week and recycling.”

Busby said it can help the county financially.

“We would have less roads to maintain,” he said.