Oxford’s new comprehensive plan includes decisions on housing, transportation, business growth

More than 800 locals contributed to ‘Oxford Tomorrow’.

During a recent Oxford City Council meeting, an ordinance updating the city’s future plans and ambitions was finalized, nullifying a previous version adopted in 2008.

The new plan titled “Oxford Tomorrow: Community Update” is a project that underwent preparations in late 2020. According to the ordinance, its use will, “help guide the city in its decision-making over the next decade and beyond.”

The plan outlines several key policy stances in the form of eight general plan elements which are land use & development, mobility, housing, economy, sustainability,  culture & recreation, community well-being, and utilities.

The plan also includes key policy decisions on how the city plans on carrying elements out. Examples include reducing emissions towards neutrality by 2045 under sustainability, promoting alternative sources of transportation under mobility, expanding housing options for all life stages under housing, and attracting new businesses and employment opportunities to diversify the local economy.

Overall, the 2023 comprehensive plan includes 162 planning recommendations.

In creating the 150-page plan, which can be viewed online via the plan’s website, the city of Oxford sought help in the form of MKSK, a Columbus-based landscape architecture and urban design firm involved with helping cities such as Akron, Louisville and Toledo. Originally meant to be a temporary solution, the City of Oxford was impressed by initial contributions, and later offered a full-time contract to help with the comprehensive plan.

During a city council meeting on Dec. 7, 2021, it was announced MKSK would receive a contract from the City of Oxford ranging up to $115,000 to help with planning.

Sarah Lilly, a project manager of MKSK, spoke during Oxford City Council’s Jan. 3, 2022 meeting on the project.

“I just want to emphasize that the Oxford Tomorrow comprehensive plan is truly a community-driven vision for the future of Oxford for the next 10 years and beyond,” Lilly said.

In addition to outside help, a 29-member steering committee was created for the project. Committee members range from chair and city boards, community partners such as Enjoy Oxford, Miami University and Talawanda School Districts, as well as three citizens at large, and three youth representatives.

Councilor David Prytherch, a member of both the Oxford Tomorrow Steering Committee and the Oxford Planning Commission, also spoke on the project during the council’s first reading of the finalized report.

“I think all of us who come on the council, and we run for office and we’re representatives and we think we know what the people are thinking, but it’s hard to know,” Prytherch said. “... And it turns out that it’s referring to a lot of the things that we already were working on.”

During committee meetings, key takeaways listed in the report included a need for more sports facilities, childcare options, mental health services and housing availability within the city.

To help involve the community, public input sessions both online and in-person were held throughout 2021 and 2022, and an online engagement form was created online. To help voice the concerns of those who might not be able to reach out through digital means, survey postcards were distributed to areas such as Park View Arms, the Miami Mobile Home Park and Age Friendly Oxford newsletters.

According to the comprehensive plan, popular community engagement themes include focusing on becoming a more complete community, investing in more restaurants, shopping, and entertainment options, incentivizing local economy and housing options, and fostering a strong relationship between Miami University and the greater community.

The plan states that more than 800 community members engaged in the Oxford Tomorrow process, highlighted by 345 attendees being recorded in public input meetings, 331 online and paper survey responses, and 49 participants in online activities.

Councilor Prytherch says during the Jan. 3 city council meeting that the comprehensive plan will get its first full complete discussion during the city council’s work retreat on Jan. 20.

“The idea of taking these broad goals using when our retreat is in a few weeks, setting annual priorities, you know, I think that we’re in a much better position,” Prytherch said.

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