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Posted: December 7, 2011 12:30 a.m.

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City approves conservation ordinance

The Oxford City Council Monday night approved a new conservation subdivision ordinance to encourage developers to leave more land as open space, but declined to purchase a plot for a new park.

A purchase and rezoning initiative to create the park for young children and parents on a vacant lot in Oxford Square failed after opposition from residents from that neighborhood, who were concerned about the park attracting teenagers.

"The council voted to not purchase the property for a park as the residents that appeared at the hearings were opposed to the idea," Mayor Jerry Roseberry said Tuesday. "The consistent complaint was that they are afraid that a public park will attract undesirables into their community."

The city council held a second public hearing Monday on rezoning the plot of land on Oxford Way to parkland. Several residents who had spoken against the plan last month again expressed opposition. 

install equipment for children under 12 years old, along with benches and tables for parents. Residents said they feared teenagers would cause trouble and use the park at night.

Roseberry said he was still open to working with the residents to build a recreation area for the neighborhood. “We will continue to work with the Oxford Square residents and see what we can do that will meet with their approval,” he said.

The city had budgeted $70,000 for parks in this fiscal year's budget. Roseberry has said he wanted the park at Oxford Square to be the first of several similar parks around the city.

After the 6 p.m. public hearing, the council approved a slate of ordinance changes, one of which created a conservation subdivision plan to encourage developments with more open 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.

Councilor Hoyt Oliver said the extra open space will preserve the aesthetic condition of the city by maintaining green space, as opposed to wide open sprawling subdivisions, and giving 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 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 new zoning code. 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, roads and parking lots cannot be considered open space.

The council also altered the Trees, Parks and Recreation board by reducing it to five members from six and extending the members’ terms from one year to three. The chairman’s term will be one year.

Another ordinance established a citywide speed limit of 25 miles per hour on all streets, with the exception of Emory Street. That road, which is also Ga. Highway 81, is 35 miles per hour limit through most of the city and 45 north of Oxford Square.

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