OXFORD, Ga. – The Oxford City Council voted unanimously Monday night to rezone two parcels of land from Residential (R-20) to Institutional to accommodate an Oxford College of Emory University plan to construct a parking lot on Whatcoat Street where a house was recently demolished. The council also approved a tentative plan for the college to make changes to the Pierce Street corridor leading to its campus from Emory Street.
The rezoned property, located at 805 Whatcoat St. and 107 George St., will be used by the college to construct 34 parking spaces. The George Street parcel was rezoned with the condition that the existing use be retained and that the parking area not exceed the area previously agreed to. The majority of the parking spaces will be located on the Whatcoat Street parcel.
Vice Chairman of the Planning Commission Jeff Wearing told the council that the commission made the Institutional zoning decision to preserve the integrity of the surrounding area.
“We felt as if the planning commission and the council could have more control or jurisdiction over anything that might be done at that particular place at any given time,” he said.
According to City manager Bob Schwartz, the new parking lot will be used in part to replace parking spaces adjacent to Allen Memorial Methodist Church that will be lost when the college begins to make changes to Pierce Street.
The Pierce Street plan, presented by Kendra Mayfield, Associate Director of Programs at the college, will include a monumental entrance to the campus from Emory Street and a roundabout. Plans also call for visitor parking lot access, new trees to fill in between the existing oaks, new curbs, sidewalks and gutters, new plantings and benches.
“At this point, we have just secured a contractor, so that we are hoping that the design can develop with input from the city to deal with the specifics,” she said.
The council also approved the city’s FY2018 budget. Included in the budget is $30,000 to provide working capital for the city’s Downtown Development Authority (DDA). The DDA will attend the council’s July 17 work session to iron out details of the proposed Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) between the bodies. It was also proposed that the city transfer property it owns on East Clark Street to the DDA. Schwartz said the city will solicit bids for the complete redevelopment of the street this month.
According to the city’s FY2018 Capital Budget, improvements will include water, sewer, electric, street, sidewalk and drainage. Electric service will be underground and will have pedestrian sized street lamps.