Oxford Commons PUD modifications pass

Published 7:38 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023

On Nov. 21, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved significant modifications to the Oxford Commons Planned Unit Development (PUD) amid varied community reactions and concerns over traffic and safety.

Following a public hearing on Nov. 7, the third reading and vote concluded with the motion’s passage, though Aldermen Howell and Hynemen voted against it. The modification includes removing a portion of Tract G’s roadway from the vehicular circulation plan, connecting Tract N to Campground Road, and reducing Tract G’s density.

Ben Requet, the planning director, detailed the modifications, emphasizing the 2019 LOU Transportation Plan’s support for a connection similar to the proposed road linking Campground Road to Buddy East Parkway. 

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He acknowledged the 2016 Vision 2037 Oxford Future Mobility Network Plan’s lack of a specific Campground Road connection, but noted its overall emphasis on connectivity. Tract N refers to the property that is east of Oxford High School and is bordered by Campground Road toward the east. It is still in development and according to the motion that was approved by the Board of Aldermen, the “vehicular circulation final design is to be determined.” In other words, beyond securing permission to move forward, the details are still being determined. There are no plans to connect Sisk directly to Campground Road. However, the PUD modification may allow smaller connector roads in The Oaks neighborhood in Oxford Commons to link up with Campground Road. There are no firm plans at this time. 

Oxford Commons PUD modifications pass. (Contributed)

Initially rejected by the Oxford Planning Commission, the modification proposal sparked diverse community opinions. Residents like Dick Dickerson expressed strong opposition, advocating for adherence to the original PUD and questioning the public need for such changes. 

In contrast, others, including Paul Nelson and Cindy Steiner, voiced concerns about traffic and safety, especially for children.

The development has been a focal point of community debate, with articles in the Oxford Eagle outlining the nuances of the discussions. Residents like Lynn and Sandy Ingram have highlighted the increased traffic concerns, particularly with the development of new housing units in the area.

The approval of the modifications represents a significant step in Oxford Commons’ evolution. The planning department recommended all modifications except changes to Lakewood Hill Drive, while the planning commission unanimously recommended the denial of the request.

Aldermen Hynemen commented on his opposition: “I just did not feel like the request [that] included the request to rezone Lakewood Hills Drive as a private road met the necessary laws that Mississippi code demands.” He went on to explain that decisions like these are made by balancing present situations with possible future situations that may or may not come to be, but foresight remains important when considering these issues. “I’ve been clear that connectivity is important, but we also have to develop our community in a manner that is supported by Mississippi Code.”  

As it stands, the motion has passed, Lakewood Hills Drive is a designated private road, and work can move forward with developing connecting roads between Campground Road and Tract N. 

As Oxford Commons continues to grow, these modifications mark a turning point in the community’s urban planning and development approach. The decision underscores the challenges of balancing development needs with community concerns, particularly traffic, safety and establishing plans.

The community’s involvement in this process highlights a dedication to mindful development, prioritizing safety and preserving the original vision of the PUD. The outcome of the Nov. 21 vote sets a precedent for future development decisions in Oxford, reflecting the complexities and the importance of local governance in shaping community landscapes.

Oxford Commons PUD modifications pass. (Contributed)

 As Oxford Commons evolves, the dialogue between community members and city officials will play a crucial role.