Senior housing development in Oxford gets green light from council

The City of Oxford, Ohio's signage. FILE

caption arrowCaption
The City of Oxford, Ohio's signage. FILE

Preliminary plans for an affordable senior housing development were approved by City Council at a second reading of the ordinance on Jan. 18.

The project is proposed for city-owned land accessible through Western Knolls subdivision on the west side of Oxford-Reily Road. After some discussion Tuesday, the ordinance was approved on a 6-0 vote after Mayor Bill Snavely recused himself because he lives in that neighborhood.

Planning Commission discussed the project in December and recommended approval to Council on a 7-0 vote. The Oxford Court Village project is being proposed by Episcopal Retirement Services for a 7-acre parcel of the 47-acre tract of land owned by the city. Access is to be through a new public street connecting the northernmost end of Dana Drive in the Western Knolls subdivision to the intersection of Oxford-Reily Road and Melissa Drive.

“Within the newly-created 7-acre site, the applicant also proposes a Preliminary Planned Development to develop 42 affordable rental units for seniors ages 55 and older,” City Planner Zachary Moore wrote in the staff report included in the Council agenda. “The units will be accessed by a loop of private parking as well as internal footpaths linking to a new public sidewalk along the south side of the extended Dana Drive. All 42 units will serve tenants with incomes at or below 60 percent of Area Median Income and will also accept Housing Choice Vouchers. To finance the project, the applicant plans to apply in February 2022 for Low Income Housing Tax Credit funding from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.”

City Community Development Director Sam Perry told Council Jan. 4 the project falls into two areas of city priority.

“It hits the goal of affordability and senior housing,” he said.

Speaking from the audience, Chris Skoglind asked Council to consider traffic issues on Oxford-Reily Road, anticipating increased traffic flow there from this project.

“I ask you have a traffic signal there instead of a flashing light,” he said.

Perry said a traffic study has shown no need for such improvements but City Service Director Mike Dreisbach said that issue would continue to be looked at.

“We will review it, but it does not meet the state warrants for a traffic light,” Dreisbach said.

The land in question was obtained by the city as the result of a 2008 court settlement over a 2001 rezoning decision. A Design Charette was held in 2019 which produced five different development concepts for the land, according to the staff report. There is currently no Master Plan for development of the 47 acres but developing one has been discussed with regard to the remaining property after the proposed Oxford Court Village portion is set aside.

Planning Commission’s recommendation of approval came with nine conditions. The first of them is that the plan is recognized as an affordable housing community for seniors and if funding does not come from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and another applicant wants to move forward with a proposal prior to the expiration of the approval, the Commission will re-evaluate the application.

Another of the conditions provides that an access and construction easement shall be established so that the connector walkway in the southeast corner can eventually be extended to the eastern property line by the city or an entity authorized by the city.

It will also require bicycle parking be available.

Council Member David Prytherch added another condition in an amendment Tuesday to provide narrower streets within the development.

Prytherch spoke favorably about the proposal at first reading.

“This is how we envisioned it to leverage that land. This proposal has a lot of value,” he said. “It fits.”

About the Author