OXFORD, Ga. – The Oxford City Council discussed reevaluating its priorities for projects in the city’s downtown development area at a Monday evening work session.
The conversation comes on the heels of the city’s Downtown Development Authority receiving no responses to a recent request for proposals for a new subdivision on East Clark Street.
Councilmember Mike Ready said, “The DDA, like you probably all were, was a little saddened that we did not get any response from the RFP that was out. And they did concentrate mostly on the East Clark Street project because they thought that housing would be a good place to start.
“A lot of effort was put into it, not only from the outside source, but within the committee itself. When this all came back we took to heart some of the comments that came back from the developers and we decided to pause pushing on the Clark Street temporarily to see if we could see what we may have to do modify in our proposal and go ahead and present it again after the first of the year.”
Ready said DDA wants the council’s support for its exploration of the best way to use the city’s downtown area which connects from Whatcoat Street down Emory Street to Clark Street, incorporating the Yarbrough House and the property behind it.
“They would like to be able to start that in conjunction with reformulating the East Clark Street area,” he said.
Councilmember and Mayor Pro-Tem Jim Windham, who was presiding over the meeting in the absence of Mayor Jerry Roseberry, said the reasons developers gave for their lack of interest ranged from too busy and problems with the design of the subdivision to the absence of amenities nearby to support a subdivision.
“The developer stated that residential development was not viable without a town center or some other amenity to attract people to the area,” he said.
Homeowners near the proposed development raised concerns ranging from the amount of pavement in the current plan to the loss of old growth trees that the construction would mean to the city.
Councilmember David Eady said new houses in Oxford will mean more money for the city.
“I don’t mind sharing what I’ve heard as a basis,” he said. “More rooftops in Oxford means more revenue for Oxford, as a way of thinking about the long-term viability of the city.
“Additional houses in Oxford would mean additional utility customers both on the electrical and the water and sewer. Those are things that I’ve actually heard stated as a basis for this type of development.”
“It’s not cast in stone," Windham said. "It’s not an absolute thing. If enough people don’t want it, then maybe we can do something else.”
Eady added, “It’s interesting that we found out that the market does not currently bear this. It’s a good time for a strategic pause.
“So we can maybe take some deliberate investment in what are those things that are the most important investments that we can make in building our community to make it better.”