By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Township Board of Trustees met on Wednesday, July 14. Here’s what they discussed.
2020 Audited Financial Report
Rana Emmons, a partner with accounting firm PSLZ, presented their audit of the township’s 2020 financial report. The township’s report was given an “unmodified opinion” by the firm, meaning there was nothing wrong with the report.
The township saved on some expenditures due to not operating at full capacity and delaying projects during the pandemic. There was roughly a 4 percent increase on property taxes based on taxable values, while millage taxes were rolled back. State tax revenues were roughly at 2019 levels. The full report can be found online in the quick links on the main page of the township’s website.
First Reading of Ordinances
Two ordinance revisions were brought up for their first readings: Sewer Ordinance 107A.007 and Water Ordinance 105B.009.
107A was revised to allow delinquent grinder pump repairs to be included on tax bills. About $13,000 has to be collected by the township, and passing the ordinance would allow the township to collect the money.
105B was revised to expand eligibility to finance tap fees for homes that have wells and connect to the township water system.
Both ordinances were passed for a second reading unanimously, which will be done at a later meeting.
Second Reading of Ordinances
Zoning Ordinance Amendment 67A.025 was brought up for its second reading. The amendment aims to regulate the growth and sale of medical marijuana in the I-1 light industrial and I-2 general industrial districts. Cultivators will be limited to 72 plants and are subject to myriad stipulations such as containing odors involved with the growth of marijuana, logging everyone who enters the building and being subject to annual checks with two hours of notice.
The amendment passed the second reading 6-1 with Treasurer Joseph Ferrari providing the lone objection.
Fire Department Parcel Development
The Oxford Fire Department has a 3.25 acre parcel of land in the northeast part of the township and would like to build a fire station to serve residents and industry in the area. While no official study has been done into the project, Oxford Fire Chief Pete Scholz expects the project to cost about $1 million to build and equip the station and about $900,000 to hire six new people to staff the building.
The board voted unanimously to form a committee to review plans regarding a new fire department. An amended motion to require the fire department to pay for the project was passed 6-1 with Trustee Margie Payne providing the lone objection.
The board honored Rick Laidler for 24 years as Parks and Recreations Commission Chairman.
Oxford Public Library Director Bryan Cloutier officially submitted the library board’s bond election proposal to the township. The bond will be used to expand the library and be paid for by a millage separate from the current tax revenue the library receives. Despite questions over the purpose of the election — a similar election in 2020 failed by 47 votes — the township voted 5-2 approving the election for Nov. 2, 2021.
The board unanimously approved the final site plan for Manitou Hills. Several residents voiced their concerns about the development building on top of a retention pond and other environmental aspects of the project during the public comment period.
The topic of Ordinance 132, which prohibits recreational marijuana, was reconsidered by the board after several businesses expressed interest in opening locations in the township. The board voted 4-3 to have the township attorney draft an amendment to ordinance 132 covering what types and how many recreational marijuana businesses could be allowed in Oxford Township. Several residents voiced their opposition to the sale of recreational marijuana.
Oxford Township has applied for about $1 million from the American Rescue Plan (ARP). While members of the board have come up with ways to use ARP funds, the board voted 6-1 to approve a Use of Funds Committee for the ARP funds. The committee will present its recommendations to the board, who will then vote on their plan. Ferrari provided the lone “no” vote.