• 63°

Oxford Board of Aldermen targets areas in Lafayette County to annex

An urban planning consultant has named three areas in Lafayette County that the Oxford Board of Aldermen should consider top priority when it comes to the city of Oxford’s future annexation plans, based on growth and available undeveloped land.

On Tuesday, during a work session with the aldermen, Mike Slaughter, with Slaughter and Associates, presented a chart showing nine areas of Lafayette County that could be considered for annexation. Those nine locations were broken down into three groups, ranking priority from first to third.

The areas in the Priority No. 1 group were of little surprise as they’ve been discussed by the board for two years and include the area around the future West Oxford Loop Extended that will connect the current West Oxford Loop to Old Sardis Road; Highway 30, north of Oxford Commons, which is close to where the city recently annexed 35 acres at the request of developer, David Blackburn; and south of Oxford Commons to Highway 6 and along Highway 334 that would include Brittany Woods and County Road 406.

Slaughter said the priority areas could change as more information is gathered on the cost of annexing each area.

Slaughter said he is currently reviewing tax revenue numbers and expenditures based on department requirements, like fire and police protection, which would have to be available as soon as the land is annexed.

Mayor Pat Patterson asked Slaughter how long it would take for him to get the numbers ready for the Priority No. 1 areas.

“We can have that in 30 days,” Slaughter said.

Patterson said what areas are annexed will simply come down to dollars.

“It will be a cost-driven approach,” Patterson said. “We can’t take in more than we can afford.”

One possible major expense could involve the purchase of existing water associations in the three Priority No. 1 area, of which there are about four.

Slaughter said he recommends, if feasible, for the city to acquire the water associations.

“You can provide better water and lower rates,” he said. “Option two, you don’t acquire them but you may have to run a fire line in some instances to protect your fire rating. That’s not the best case scenario but I’ve seen it done in other areas around the state.”

Aldermen and mayor-elect Robyn Tannehill asked how much undeveloped land is in the Priority No. 1 areas.

“We want to make sure we’re not just annexing developed land,” she said. “We need open land for affordable, workforce housing options.”

Slaughter said roughly half of land in the three areas are undeveloped. If the city chooses to move forward with annexing all three Priority No. 1 areas, the city would grow from 16 to about 37 square foot miles of land. However, since a good portion of the land is undeveloped, the city’s population would not drastically increase.

Projected ad valorem taxes from all three top priority areas is expected to bring in about $365,000 and sales tax revenue is expected to be about $447,000.

Slaughter said he’d continue to crunch numbers on the three Priority No. 1 areas and bring them before the board in about 30 days.