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Oxford Aldermen Mull Changes to Zoning Ordinance

Some changes to how properties are zoned may be coming to Oxford after a public hearing brought many citizens to city hall in favor of the potential changes.
Oxford board of aldermen held public hearing Tuesday to discuss amending an ordinance to reduce the lot coverage in RB- and RC-zoned properties as well as add subsections to the ordinance to limit the number of units and bedrooms allowed in two-unit duplexes and multi-unit developments. Aldermen will vote on the measure Oct. 7. If approved, lot coverage will be reduced from 40 percent to 30 percent for properties zoned RB and RC, excluding single-family homes.
The changes will also affect the number of bedrooms allowed in housing units. For RC properties, units may have no more than three bedrooms, and only 1/3 of the units on that property may contain three bedrooms.
For RB-zoned properties, units also may only contain three bedrooms, but half of the units may house three people. The remaining half of the apartments would be one- or two-bedroom units.
City planner Andrea Correll said the initiative was to prevent overbuilding and the inevitable removal of the small-town charm of Oxford.
One rental property owner with more than 250 rental units in Oxford spoke against the potential changes, saying the new restrictions would reduce property values by reducing the number of bedrooms allowed to be built on the property.
Many Oxonians came out in favor of the changes, speaking out against the potential overcrowding that is happening Oxford as the University of Mississippi increases its student population every year. Many cited that the city is not promoted by “how many buildings we can cram in,” and would rather see growth in other areas of the city.
DSC_1152One point of concern for many citizens that is already developed is a number of complexes on University Avenue that have popped up in recent years. Former Oxford Mayor Richard Howorth spoke in favor of the proposed changes as the best potential way to protect and preserve the physical past of the town, stating that the change is in the best interest of Oxford and its citizens.
“As an owner, we consider ourselves a steward of the property, to preserve and protect it,” a South 14th Street homeowner said during the hearing. “Rentals do not have that same attention, generally, which certainly does not go down by limiting density. Property values will increase by preserving what makes Oxford attractive to all.”
Amelia Camurati is managing editor of HottyToddy.com and can be reached at amelia.camurati@hottytoddy.com.

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