Planning meetings provide knowledge
I moved to Oxford in January 2007 and have rented a home ever since. I rented a few apartments at first and now, for the last four or five years, have been in a rental home owned by Bud and Pat Keel who have been wonderful.
Despite the great arrangement I have, I sometimes wish I could own a home, however being a single mom for a long time left me with not-so-great credit, which I’m trying to repair.
I can honestly say, when I am ready to purchase a home, I will be the most informed, smartest, pickiest homebuyer ever, because for more than eight years I have sat through hundreds of planning commission meetings for the city and the county. I have attended countless other meetings that involve homes, like historic preservation commissions. I have learned so much at these meetings that I’ll share with you since I can’t use this knowledge to my own advantage for a while.
When looking for a home, read the zoning maps. Learn where your property is located, what it’s zoned and what the surrounding properties are zoned. If you want to live where there are only single-family homes, make sure your property isn’t located next to Multi-Family, or RC, zoning because I can assure you, eventually, someone is going to buy that land and build apartments. You can gather signatures, show up to meetings in force, but what it comes down to is, if you live next to property zoned for a particular use, those property owners have the right to build what they want within the parameters of their zoning, as long as they meet the city’s codes.
If you buy a house in the county just off one of the highways, understand there is no zoning. You could possibly one day live next door to a dog kennel or an auto mechanic. Highways are prime property for commercial business and lite industries. Lots just off the highway will likely have a shopping center as a neighbor eventually.
Don’t build anything down hill from anything.
If I ever buy a house, it will be on the highest hill I can find because without a doubt, if you buy a house in a nice, pretty gully or on the side of a hill, someone is going to build on top of you and you will flood or silt will cover your lawn every time it rains.
I will never buy a house in a historic district. They’re lovely and Oxford would not be Oxford without these districts and the boards that govern them — but govern them they do and God-forbid you ever want to put shutters on your house or paint some brick.
While this column is mostly written in jest, I have seen a lot of heartache at these meetings from homeowners whose property values were destroyed from a nuisance neighbor, or flooding from a development built above them. I’ve seen people cry, begging the commission members to keep student housing away from their homes, even though the land is zoned to allow apartments and townhouses.
Now I just need to win the Powerball so I can find that perfect house, high on a hill away from multi-family zones, inside the city limits but not in a historic district.
Wish me luck.
Alyssa Schnugg is city editor at The Oxford EAGLE. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.