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Posted: December 4, 2011 12:30 a.m.

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City mulls new subdivision ordinances


Oxford is considering creating new conservation subdivision rules to encourage developers to leave a greater percentage of the total project as open or green space.

The rules would be voluntary and would allow developers to build on smaller lots than the current zoning rules allow in order to get the maximum density while keeping at least 40 percent of the total subdivision as open or green space. The City Council may vote on the measure Monday.

“The incentive is they can cluster their houses on smaller pieces of land,” said City Councilor Hoyt Oliver, who is chair of the Planning, Zoning, Storm Water and Cemetery committee. “They can get the maximum density allowed in that zoning district, but they can put houses together which means they would save on running utility lines.”

Oliver said the extra open space will help “preserve our wooded and livable condition” in Oxford by maintaining green space, as opposed to wide open sprawling subdivisions, and give residents outdoor recreation opportunities while allowing developers to still build and sell the same number of houses.

The conservation subdivision can be used on the outer residential zones, which have larger minimum plot size requirements. The individual lots still would have at least 45 feet of frontage, the whole subdivision would have to have an average lot width of 75 feet and the subdivision would be larger than 10 acres, according to the proposed code change. Each lot also would have a setback of 20 feet from the front and back property lines and 10 feet on each side.

Open space can be used as conservation space; agriculture; active recreation areas; meadows, wetlands, and wildlife refuges; landscaped storm water management facilities; and bicycle or walking trails. Uses such as golf courses, parking lots and roads cannot be considered open space.

In addition, the council is considering an ordinance change that would standardize the speed limit in the entire city at 25 miles per hour except for Emory Street, which would remain 35 and 45 miles per hour.

It will also consider modifications to the Trees, Parks and Recreation board, changes that would shrink it to five members from six and extend terms from one year to three. The chairman’s term would be one year.

“We made it similar to what the Planning Commission composition is,” Oliver said.

The council held a hearing on the changes last month and will have a second reading Monday evening. Oliver said he intended to seek approval for the changes at that time.


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