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Aldermen review additional annexation area changes

The Oxford Board of Aldermen took its first official step toward annexing about 12 square miles of county land Tuesday when they heard the first reading of the ordinance announcing the city’s intent to enlarge the corporate limits of Oxford.

However, the final map of what that annexation will look like still needs to be finalized.

Last month, Mike Slaughter of Slaughter and Associates in Oxford, an urban planning consulting firm, presented an annexation study to the aldermen, showing five areas that were selected as possible annexation areas.

On Thursday, the city held a public meeting at the Oxford Conference Center where enlarged images of the proposed annexation areas were on display, allowing county and city residents to review the maps and ask questions and express concerns.

After that meeting, and due to some input from property owners, some changes were made to the original map, which now shows six areas to be annexed. However, the increase in the number of areas was due one larger area – Area 1 that includes West Oxford Loop extended, portions of Old Sardis Road leading to FNC Park being severed into two separate areas with a chunk of property on the west side of the West Oxford Loop Extension being cut out of annexation area.

Another change occurred in Area 4 – in the southern part of Oxford off South Lamar Boulevard, where landowners, including Brown’s Dairy Farm, asked to be left out of the annexation area. City planners presented three different map options Tuesday – leaving the proposed area as it was originally mapped; removing a large tract of land including the cattle farm from the map; and one that has part of annexation area reduced.

The aldermen agreed to review the different options and discuss it briefly on Monday during a work session. The land description of all proposed annexation areas must be completed by the second reading and public hearing scheduled for 5 p.m. on March 6.

Aldermen Rick Addy suggested the second reading and public hearing can be delayed if more time is needed.

“We need to get this right,” he said.

Other proposed annexation areas include Area 2, in the northeast area of Oxford that takes in mostly Highway 30 and part of County Road 101, or old Highway 7 north; Area 3, toward the east boundary, that takes in portions of Highway 6 where the new Lafayette County Justice Center is being built, Lafayette County School District campus and Brittany Woods; and Area 5 off Highway 6 would take in Thacker Heights and Royal Oaks.

If the city annexed all the land in the study areas, it would add 12 square miles to the city. Currently, Oxford is 16 square miles. The population would increase by about 3,600 people.

When and if the ordinance is approved after a third reading, the city will file a petition to annex in the Lafayette County Chancery Court where a judge will set a hearing date. If no objections are made and the judge rules in favor of the annexation, and no appeal is filed, it’s possible the annexation could go through by late September or early October.

However, if objections or an appeal are filed, the annexation could be delayed by a year or more.

If the annexation is approved, it will not change the school districts boundaries. Children will continue to attend the same schools that they attended prior to the annexation.

At the annexation hearing, city attorneys will need to present evidence to address 12 factors of reasonableness at the hearing, which include:

  • The municipality’s need to expand
  • Whether the area sought to be annexed is reasonably within a path of growth of the city
  • Potential health hazards from sewage and waste disposal in the annexed areas
  • The municipality’s financial ability to make the improvements and furnish municipal services promised
  • Need for zoning and overall planning in the areas
  • Need for municipal services in the areas sought to be annexed
  • Whether there are natural barriers between the city and the proposed annexation area
  • Past performance and time element involved in the city’s provision of services to its present residents
  • Economic or other impact of the annexation upon those who live in or own property in the proposed annexation area
  • Impact of the annexation upon the voting strength of protected minority groups
  • Whether the property owners and other inhabitants of the areas sought to be annexed have in the past, and in the foreseeable future unless annexed will, because of their reasonable proximity to the corporate limits of the municipality, enjoy economic and social benefits of the municipality without paying their fair share of taxes
  • Any other factors that may suggest reasonableness

The final annexation area map will be updated and available to view online or at City Hall once finalized after Monday’s Board of Aldermen work session.