Re: City of Oxford Land Development Code

Published 9:18 am Wednesday, August 9, 2017

It is not an exaggeration to say that one of the most important events in Oxford for the next 20 years will occur at 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 14, 2017.  That is when the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing for “Case #2220 — City of Oxford Land Development Code and Zoning Map.”  This is part of the Vision 2037 Comprehensive Plan.  Provisions in the proposed new zoning maps should alarm citizens of Oxford who value the quiet enjoyment of their property.

The Oxford Eagle reported on March 22, 2017, that the Board of Alderman approved “Oxford’s first Traditional Neighborhood Development” by a vote of 5 to 1.  The property involved is located between Chickasaw Road and North Lamar Boulevard and is close to Vivian Street.  The “no” vote was cast by Coach Howell, who is reported to have said, “That neighborhood will never be the same.”  The Editorial Board of the Eagle agreed in an editorial published on March 23, 2017, saying, “There’s no denying that one of Oxford best neighborhoods, including Vivian and Chickasaw roads, will never be the same once this development is completed ….”

What Coach Howell understands, and what the Eagle’s editorial did not mention, is that the new zoning classification “Traditional Neighborhood Development” (or “TND”) allows bars, liquor stores and gas stations.  That may sound like a “traditional” neighborhood in Memphis, but it doesn’t sound like Oxford.  Nor does it sound very appealing.  Sadly, the Eagle’s editorial concluded with the statement, “… this first step in zoning change is a step in the right direction.”  Personally, I do not understand how bars, liquor stores and gas stations in “one of Oxford best neighborhoods” (or in any other formerly quiet neighborhood) is a step in the right direction.

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Several years ago residents of Woodlawn subdivision worked diligently to effectuate a land swap that led to the creation of the Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center at the intersection of Anderson Road and West Oxford Loop.  Recently, a developer intended to build a large convenience store and gas station adjacent to the park on property presently zoned for “Professional Business” (“PB”).  Woodlawn residents objected to re-zoning the area, and the proposed gas station has been withdrawn – for now.  Unfortunately, the developer may simply be biding his time, because under the proposed new zoning, the PB zoning classification will no longer exist, being replaced by TND, and all areas currently zoned PB will change to TND, including land adjacent to the Woodlawn-Davis park.  This means that bars, liquor stores and gas stations will be allowed next to the Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center.  Personally, I find this possibility appalling.

There can be no doubt that the Planning Department has done an enormous amount of work on the new zoning, but there are problems in the proposed new zoning that should be rejected by Oxford citizens and property owners.  My reason for writing this is to alert Oxford property owners to the fact that the proposed new zoning will bring changes that could mean your neighborhood will never be the same.  The time to address the matter is 5:00 p.m. on Monday, August 14, 2017, at the Courtroom in the Oxford City Hall.  Once bars, liquor stores and gas stations are under construction in your neighborhood, it will be too late to complain.

David Robinson