When it comes to Oxford Township’s future in terms of development and amenities, what do residents want to see?
Well, that all depends on who you ask.
Between mid-March and mid-May, that’s exactly what was done as folks were invited to participate in a 25-question online survey in order to collect public input as the township updates its existing master plan, a process that’s expected to wrap up either late this year or early next year.
A total of 352 people took the survey and, of those, 229 reported living in the township (outside village limits) and 62 in the village.
“I’d say it’s a pretty fair sample,” said township Planner Matthew Lonnerstater, of the Ann Arbor-based Carlisle/Wortman Associates, Inc. “It’s enough to gauge a (cross section) of residents. Of course, we’d like to have more, but I think it’s a pretty decent sample size to work with for the master plan update.”
“We’ve done these types of surveys in other communities and (the response) hovers around the mid 400 or 500s, typically,” he noted. “For an update, I think that’s a pretty good sample size. If we were doing a completely new (master) plan, we would have obviously (utilized) more public input methods whether it be open houses or workshops.”
Of the respondents, 263 indicated they own real property in the township and 51 stated they own a business in Oxford.
Not everyone who participated in the survey responded to every question and some questions allowed for multiple answers from each respondent.
Lonnerstater indicated the survey responses will play a significant role in the planning commission’s decision-making process when it comes to developing the future land use plan.
For example, many of the survey responses and comments favored keeping the township’s rural character and restricting the spread of development.
“We’re definitely taking that into consideration and introducing some innovative concepts to achieve that goal,” Lonnerstater said.
“We’re going to be introducing this new ‘urban service area’ as kind of a way to restrict denser development to the areas around the village. That furthers the previous (master plan) goal of preserving agricultural and rural uses and equestrian uses on the northern side of the township.”
When asked to rate how important they feel it is to “encourage new residential development,” 153 people said it’s not important, 79 called it somewhat important, 48 said it was important and 33 deemed it very important.
Encouraging new commercial development fared a little better. Of those who responded, 110 deemed it not important, while 76 called it very important. In between, there were 69 respondents who thought it somewhat important and 61 said it was important.
Industrial development wasn’t too popular in the survey.
Of those who responded, 167 answered that encouraging it was not important, while only 26 called it very important. Eighty-one people felt it was somewhat important, while 34 deemed it important.
Providing more housing for senior citizens and young families was not a high priority for most of those surveyed.
A total of 120 people ranked it as not important to do this for seniors and 141 said it was not important for young families. Twenty-six people ranked it as very important for seniors and 38 called it very important for young families.
For seniors, 102 ranked more housing as somewhat important and 57 called it important. For young families, 81 called more housing somewhat important and 50 said it was important.
The idea of providing more “affordable housing” fared even worse. A total of 178 ranked it as not important, while 27 deemed it to be very important. Sixty-three respondents said it was somewhat important and 34 labeled it as important.
When asked which types of residential development the township could use more of, a combined 211 respondents said they wanted to see detached single-family homes on lots ranging from small subdivision size to 3 acres or more.
Fifty-five people wanted to see more senior citizen housing, 40 wanted more attached townhomes/condominiums and 25 responded that more apartments were needed.
Zero of the respondents said more manufactured homes are needed.
A total of 144 people responded, “none, there is already enough residential development.”
Based on the survey, 117 people want more sit-down restaurants in the township and 108 believe more specialty shops and boutiques are needed.
A total of 103 folks want more essential retail and services, such as grocery stores, dry cleaners and hardware stores, while 51 people believe more drive-through restaurants are needed.
Forty-nine people want to see more big-box stores, while 47 folks believe more entertainment venues, such as movie theaters and night clubs, are needed.
Fifty-five people want to see more mixed-use developments where there’s a combination of residential, commercial and research-office uses.
Only 16 respondents believe more industrial uses are needed.
Ninety-four people said “there is already enough commercial development” and no more is needed.
Recreation and nature
When asked how important it is to have non-motorized connections – such as bike paths, walking trails, sidewalks and equestrian trails – within the township, 151 people deemed it very important, while 41 said it was not important. In between, 73 folks responded it was important and 53 classified it as somewhat important.
Those surveyed had mixed feelings on the importance of providing additional public parks and recreation areas.
Seventy-nine ranked it as very important, while 95 considered it not important. In between, 79 classified it as important, while 62 called it somewhat important.
Preserving natural features, such as woodlands and wetlands, and preserving open spaces is a priority for those surveyed.
Of the 323 who answered this question, 291 ranked natural feature preservation as important to very important and 267 deemed preserving open spaces to be important or very important.
When it comes to transportation, 264 respondents deemed it important or very important to improve the traffic flow on primary roadways in the township.
However, 162 ranked it as unimportant to offer public transportation to surrounding communities, while 83 said it was somewhat important. Only 70 people called public transportation important or very important.
What do they like?
Respondents were asked what they consider to be the “most favorable features” of the township. They could choose more than one answer.
At the top of the list was “rural character” with 205 people citing it. That was followed by “friendliness of residents” (166); proximity to lakes (159); access to parks and recreation (158); access to open space (141) and Oxford Community Schools (134).
What don’t they like?
Respondents were asked what they consider to be the “least favorable features” of the township. Again, they could choose more than one thing.
The top two complaints had to do with traffic and roads.
“Traffic congestion” was cited by 186 respondents followed by “inadequate road maintenance” with 137 responses.
“Too much residential development” was cited by 99 people as a least favorable feature followed by 80 people who said “too much commercial development” is a problem.
Quality of life
With regard to how the quality of life within the township will be impacted over the next five years, 120 people believe it will “decline,” while 88 said it will improve.
Ninety-seven folks believe it “will remain the same.”