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Oxford Considers Reducing Affordable Housing Incentive Requirements

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor


To encourage developers to build more affordable homes in Oxford, the Oxford Board of Aldermen passed an ordinance in 2019 to create incentives for developers.

The incentives include having building, planning review, development and water and sewer connection permit fees reduced or waived, a reduction in tree preservation and mitigation requirements and modifications to the stormwater management requirements.

Bell Rivers development was one of the earliest to gain incentives for creating more affordable housing. Photo via Bellrivers.com

To receive the incentives, developers had to guarantee that at least 50 percent of their dwelling units would be available as affordable housing for at least 10 years.

However, developers have been hesitant about taking advantage of the incentives due to the promise of making 50 percent of their dwellings “affordable housing.”

According to the city ordinance, affordable housing is defined as being affordable for rent or purchase to those with household incomes below 80 percent of the standard area median income as defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Oxford Board of Aldermen is considering lowering the requirement for developers to receive incentives to require a commitment to make 10 percent of the dwelling units be considered affordable housing for at least 15 years.

Mayor Robyn Tannehill said having some affordable homes to offer Oxonians is better than none.

“We wrote this ordinance in hopes that developers would take advantage of it, but people aren’t taking advantage of it, and what we understand from developers that is the primary reason,” Tannehill said Tuesday during the Board’s regular meeting. “They’d like to do some but 50 percent is a bit of a stretch as far as their business models go.”

The incentives increase depending on the number of affordable units the developer agreed to build.

Tuesday was the first reading of the proposed ordinance change. There will be a second reading and public hearing with public comment at 5 p.m. on May 2 at City Hall.

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