Oxford changes towing ordinance, confirms metered parking near College@Elm incubator

Oxford City Council passed four new pieces of legislation Tuesday, including approval for new parking meters to be installed this summer near Miami University’s new College@Elm building.

In total, Oxford will bring in six multi-space parking kiosks and 22 single-space meters that will serve to replace old coin-operated meters along College Avenue and extend paid parking to the area surrounding College@Elm, the Oxford Community Arts Center and the Caroline Harrison building.

City officials hope to curtail overnight and all-day parking in the nearby non-metered spots, as the city’s Economic Development staff expects the area to receive more visitors and traffic largely spurred by a fully functional College@Elm incubator space.

“We’re trying to get ahead of the growth in that area, so you’ll see meters installed this summer,” Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene said.

Council also passed a measure that will allow Oxford Police Department to call for tow trucks from providers outside city limits, including Reffitt’s Garage & Towing Service a few miles away in McGonigle.

Council also adopted a new ordinance to allow the Oxford Police Department to call out-of-city tow truck companies for standard service, to the benefit of Reffitt’s Garage & Towing Service just a few miles away in McGonigle, which joins CarStar and Oxford Car Care on the city’s a list of preferred tow vendors.

When a tow truck is needed, Oxford PD uses a rotation list to determine who to call; that rotation list was exclusive to companies within Oxford’s city limits. Chief John Jones said the rotation used to have several additional companies but has diminished over the years. Jones said service has been satisfactory, but noted that adding competition would benefit the city and potentially shorten wait times for tow trucks.

Jones brought the ordinance before council at the behest of Travis Reffitt, owner of Reffitt’s Garage, whose company is often commissioned by Oxford PD during early morning hours or when a scenario calls for Reffitt’s heftier equipment.

Mayor William Snavely said he opposed the ordinance because he’d rather the city support local businesses who pay local income tax.

“(We’re) 3.1 miles (away), what isn’t local about that? Income tax?” Reffitt said. “Is CarStar’s name up on Miami Little League’s billboard sponsoring all these families around here? Ours is. What about the Kiwanis breakfast — who sponsors that? We do. Now, if I’m going to sponsor all these things in this town and get business off it, what’s any different than running tows?”

Reffitt told council that he actually bought a vacant commercial lot within city limits as a sign of good faith, which impressed members of the council.

Councillor David Prytherch opined that the city’s ordinances shouldn’t be used to maintain monopolies.

The ordinance passed with Snavely as the lone dissenter.

Council also approved separate ordinances changing a street name in a private subdivision and approving an accessory dwelling unit in a detached garage on Collins Street, which Greene said was the first of its kind in Oxford.

The “precedent setting” dwelling unit was approved after a lengthy consideration from the city’s Community Development team, which considers accessory dwelling units to be a positive way for the city to increase its population density, where possible.

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