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Aldermen asked to use reason on proposed development

By Mari Kuhnle

In response to the opinion (J. Bankhead, Tuesday, March 14), I concur with Jordan’s opinion that the North Lamar corridor, north of Mid-Town, needs improvement. Sidewalks are needed on at least one side of North Lamar. Vivian Street, where I have lived for 31 years, would benefit from sidewalks as well.

However, the Traditional Neighborhood Plan under consideration for the N. Lamar/Chickasaw/Molly Barr area does not include a provision for constructing sidewalks outside of the TND. Within the TND there is to be “a continuous system of sidewalks” (Oxford Planning Department, Case 2162).

Mr. Bankhead also mentions that his “vision” of the future of North Lamar is “threatened by powerful forces” (Bankhead). The force opposed to the rezoning and current development plans is the Oxford residents who live in the neighborhood of Chickasaw and Vivian Street in Oxford. We have spoken for the use of reason.

“Vision 2037” envisioned TNDs in Oxford. If done properly, and in appropriate places, Traditional Neighborhood Developments could improve Oxford. If done improperly, however, the results can be disastrous.

The biggest detriment of the Case 2162 plan is its density. It proposes to house an estimated 1,000 residents (nearly 400 units) on approximately 48 acres. Imagine a world of concrete. Imagine the 100 percent run-off, which happens in a concrete area. There are elevation changes of 100 feet on that piece of land. Imagine the number of drainage basins needed, places where mosquitoes will breed. This does not sound like a reasoned plan “to keep Oxford one of America’s special places” (Bankhead). It sounds unrealistic. It smells like my home on Vivian Street flooding, due to inadequate drainage. It looks like 3 and 4-floor multi-family high-rise buildings standing next to single family homes.

The artist’s renderings in Case 2162 are lovely, but unrealistic, if thoughtfully considered. Will this be a car-free area? If so, why are five parking lots and provisions for street parking being planned? No, this will not be a car-free village. There will be businesses within the TND, for sure, but what if one wants to shop in the Square, or go to the University, or shop at Wal-Mart? Those places are too far away to be “walk-able.”

Despite the bike helmet shown on my head and the fact that I do love to bike, most of us do not live the lifestyle of walking/biking commuters. No, there will likely be 1,000 more cars on the already busy streets of Chickasaw, North Lamar, and Molly Barr, making walking and biking more dangerous.

City of Oxford and Aldermen, we ask you to use reason. If you choose to rezone this plot of land to TND, please insist that the developers reduce the density to 1/4th of what is currently planned. Insist also that the adjoining neighborhoods be provided with sidewalks. Thank you!

Mari Kuhnle is a retired educator and resident of Vivian Street for the last 31 years.