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Woodlawn subdivision wishes to keep zoning classification

This is an open letter to the members of Oxford’s Planning Commission and Board of Alderman.

This letter presents a simple request made on behalf of myself (and many other residents of Woodlawn subdivision who have spoken to me): Please keep a commitment the City of Oxford made in 2010.  Keeping this commitment is quite easy to do: Retain the “Professional Business” (“PB”) zoning district designation (and its restrictions) that currently exists for property adjacent to the Woodlawn-Davis Nature Center (“WDNC”).

Let me provide a little history.  There are approximately 188 homes in Woodlawn subdivision. The Woodlawn Home Owners Association (“WHOA”) became concerned that property east of Wedgewood Drive might be developed commercially or as multi-family residential (such as student apartments), and that such development would negatively impact property values and the peaceful enjoyment of homes in Woodlawn.

Mayor Pat Patterson was receptive to a land swap proposal put forth by WHOA to create a buffer zone to protect Woodlawn. Creating a park-like area next to Woodlawn and restricting land use around the park was a fundamental part of the land swap plan.

The land swap occurred in 2010, and was considered a “win-win” for all parties.  The city obtained the property that has now become WDNC, while the former owner of that property obtained city-owned land adjacent to property he already owned.  The Retreat (student apartments) now occupies part of the swapped land.

Restricting land use in the area was an integral part of the plan, which directly led to two things:  (1) zoning property east of WDNC as “PB” to control commercial development, and (2) a partnership with Strawberry Plains Audubon Center as a consultant for creating the “nature center” aspect of WDNC.

As presented at the Public Open House on Sept. 21, the newly proposed Oxford Land Development Code proposes to erase the PB zoning district and replace it with “Neighborhood Residential District” (“NR”). The most significant aspect of this change is that the property at the northeast corner of the intersection of Anderson Road and West Oxford Loop may now be developed as a convenience store and gas station.  (At the Public Open House, I had to ask an employee of the Planning Department a “yes or no” question six times before he would admit that “yes” a gas station would be allowed at that location.)

This change violates agreements and commitments made between the city and WHOA when the 2010 land swap and PB zoning occurred, and it will negatively impact the environment of both the Woodlawn subdivision and the WDNC. The Audubon-directed “nature center” idea is not compatible with a gas station adjacent to it.

Therefore, on behalf of myself (as well as many Woodlawn residents who have spoken to me), I respectfully ask the members of the Planning Commission and Board of Alderman to please RETAIN the present zoning district of “Professional Business” as it exists in the area of WDNC.  Retaining this zoning district requires the city to DO NOTHING — simply make no change to what exists now.  A promise made by the city of Oxford to its citizens (specifically including the 188 households in Woodlawn) should be kept.

A Public Hearing on the new zoning will be held by the Planning Commission at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017.

David Robinson