Oxford Commons debate highlights safety concerns

Published 8:41 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Oxford’s Board of Aldermen convened on Nov. 7 to a packed room of residents eager to voice their concerns about proposed road changes within the Oxford Commons Planned Unit Development (PUD). The elimination of Lakewood Hills Drive and a new road to Campground Road were hot topics, with residents raising issues of safety, increased traffic and adherence to the original development plan.

Oxford Commons Residents Debate PUD Changes Amidst Traffic and Safety Concerns at Board of Aldermen Nov. 7 Meeting

Oxford Common’s Master Plan (from file)

In the discussion, Paul Nelson supported the new Campground Road connection, highlighting its potential for improved access. He stressed the necessity of “engineering it for traffic calming features” to safeguard pedestrians, particularly children on their way to school.

Cindy Steiner, voicing her worry, emphasized the risk to children’s safety due to the expected rise in traffic. “We’re talking about a community with kids walking to school, and now we’re adding how many more cars?” she questioned, advocating for a thorough traffic and safety review.

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Dick Dickerson, a resident of Lakewood Hills Drive, stood firm on the original city-approved PUD map’s promises. He argued for the preservation of established plans, underscoring the decisions made by families like his based on those assurances.

Lynn Ingram pointed to the current traffic snarls, especially when schools let out. “Why worsen an already terrible situation by approving these changes?” he asked, echoing concerns about increasing congestion.

The community’s call for comprehensive traffic, density, and safety studies resonated throughout the meeting. Alderman Rick Addy noted that numerous studies are on file at the city’s engineering offices for those interested.

Legality of request questioned

Legal aspects of the PUD alterations were also scrutinized. Dickerson challenged the Board, questioning whether changes in public need justified the proposed modifications.

Earlier, Paul Koshenina of Precision Engineering, representing The Blackburn Group, asserted that Lakewood Hills Drive was always meant to be private, countering residents’ hopes for it to become public.

Oxford Commons Residents Debate PUD Changes Amidst Traffic and Safety Concerns at Board of Aldermen Nov. 7 Meeting

On Oct. 9, the Oxford Planning Commission rejected proposed modifications to the Oxford Commons Planned Unit Development (PUD) and associated road connections.

Ben Requet, Oxford’s director of planning, maintained his office’s support for the developer’s request, except for the removal of Lakewood Hills Drive from public use. Koshenina held firm on the developer’s stance for an all-or-nothing decision on the changes.

Residents like Steiner and Dickerson suggested that the proposed changes were motivated more by the developer’s interests than by community needs.

Oxford Commons Development future

The Board of Aldermen is tasked with weighing the benefits of enhanced connectivity against the potential drawbacks of increased residential traffic and the importance of maintaining the PUD’s integrity. The community’s involvement highlights a collective dedication to mindful development, prioritizing safety and original vision. The final vote on the matter is set for the Board’s next meeting on Nov. 21.