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Aldermen approve ordinance to enlarge Oxford via annexation

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

The board also voted to give City Attorney Pope Mallette permission to move forward with filing a Petition to Annex in the Lafayette County Chancery Court.

Mike Slaughter of Slaughter and Associates in Oxford, an urban planning consulting firm, was hired by the city last year to study areas in Lafayette County that could be considered by the aldermen for annexation. There are six areas in various parts of the county that will be part of the annexation, with all areas being connected to existing city limits.

Area 1 includes West Oxford Loop extended, portions of Old Sardis Road leading to FNC Park and Lakeway Gardens; Area 2, in the northeast area of Oxford takes in a portion of Highway 30, part of Old Highway 7 North; Area 3 takes in portions of Highway 6 where the new Lafayette County Business Center is being built, Lafayette County School District campus and Brittany Woods; Area 4, in the southern part of Oxford down South Lamar will take in Southpointe and Twin Gates subdivision; Area 5 off Highway 6 takes in Thacker Heights and Royal Oaks; and Area 6 which takes in property east of Highway 6 north of the Wellsgate subdivision.

No one from the public spoke during the hearing; however, Robyn Tannehill said a letter from a Southpointe resident protesting the annexation came into her office late Tuesday afternoon and added it to the record. Several Southpointe residents spoke at previous meetings opposing the annexation of their neighborhood, saying it would raise their taxes and they would see little benefit from the annexation. The subdivision already has its water and served by Oxford Public Works; however, if annexed customers would pay less for their water and sewer as citizens of Oxford. Those areas that receive water and/or sewer from Oxford outside of the city limits pay a higher rate for those services.

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.

The city will now 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 impacts 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