Abbeville expecting positive impact from Oxford Springs

Published 6:00 am Sunday, December 6, 2015

Abbeville mayor Scott Fricker is confident the latest version of the Oxford Springs development will come to fruition and knows it will have an impact on his community. How much and when Abbeville will be impacted is still up in the air.

“It may be ten years from now, but I believe this will become a large, well-populated section of the county,” Fricker said.

Fricker and town officials have had initial conversations with architect Corey Algier, who is in charge of the project for developers Lamar Adams and Patrick Sands. He said those conversations have dealt with infrastructure and how much Abbeville could handle in the way of water and sewer.

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“I know they plan to build lakes and homes around lakes, but they don’t want to be in the water and sewer business, so us being the closest municipality, they were inquiring about us taking it over,” Fricker said. “As a board we’ve talked about how great this would be, but we really don’t know enough about what they have planned other than what we’ve read in the paper.”

Fricker expects more conversations down the road about infrastructure involving the project. There are several water associations around Abbeville that would also be impacted by the project, according to Fricker.

“They don’t want to create a water association, but would rather have a municipality run it,” Fricker said.

“Initially, the conversations were that they didn’t have anything concrete until they know exactly what they have,” Fricker said. “The last time we talked, they had met with the Corps of Engineers. They’re still in a holding pattern.”

Fresh start

Abbeville is home to just under 200 households and a population of just over 400 residents.

But for the last two decades, the Oxford Springs development has been known as a type of pie in the sky wild dream that would be its own community. Fricker feels the new owners of the development are on solid ground.

When Algier came before the planning commission during their most recent meeting, he outlined and put to rest rumors and told the commission the developers are still in the analysis stage of determining what exactly they have purchased. He also said there is no plan to rush into a development.

“When it was first developed, the wheels ran off it after a lot of work had been done by a lot of people,” Fricker said. “This is not a venture speculation. They have it bought and just trying to work in a slow and steady deliberate pace and do what is best for the county, the community and themselves. I feel like it will happen, but it will take time, which is the way it should be.”

Annexation talk

The Oxford Springs project and the town of Abbeville are separated by just a half-mile, according to Fricker who is aware of the talk about annexing the 2,300 acres.

He said it is premature at this time to have those discussions.

“I’ve noticed the thoughts of annexation have started. It’s a long process and we’re not rushing into anything,” Fricker said. “We want to try and be a good neighbor any way we can and hopefully that will help us too.

Town officials have also been in discussions with Center Point Energy about natural gas lines in the area and the possibility of a conjunctive development that would involve Abbeville and Oxford Springs

“We talked with the natural gas people to make sure they were aware of this project,” Fricker said. “They had done a lot of leg work 18 years ago in the previous planning stages.”

“But all this development moving north will help all of us,” Fricker said. “It can only help us. I certainly think it will be a good thing for the town of Abbeville. Whether it becomes part of the city or not, the growth would help us tax-wise and tax base-wise. It’s going to help the community, increase businesses, increase a tax base and can’t be anything but good for our community.”

Fricker said it may be February or March before more information becomes available.

“We may know more in a month or so,” Fricker said. “They have been very forthcoming and have kept us in the loop.”