By Dean Vaglia
Leader Staff Writer
The Oxford Village Council approved the Planning Commission’s Master Plan update recommendations on Tuesday, Aug. 17. The recommendations come as part of a mandatory five-year review as instructed by the Michigan Planning and Zoning Enabling Act.
“(The Master Plan) is a plan that ties together your outlook for village development and zoning,” Joe Madore, Oxford Village Manager, said. “It gives you an idea where you think you’re headed and you try to stay on course to get to those points.”
Most of the five-year reviews come back from the Planning Commission with small recommendations. The 2021 recommendations mostly keep the post-2016 master plan intact albeit with five changes.
The first recommendation is creating a new Parks and Recreation Master Plan. This is less of a change in direction than a housekeeping item since the current Parks and Recreation plan is expires in 2022.
Madore says the village might pursue a combined parks plan with Oxford and Addison townships when the current one expires.
“I recently reached out to Addison Township, Oxford Township and the schools to see if they are interested in doing a collaborative plan,” Madore said. “Sometimes that helps tie them together; it shows collaboration, so when you do grants it might get you better scoring.”
The second recommendation authorized the creation of a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). This part is mandated by the state and focuses on infrastructure upgrades over a 20-year period.
“For us, it’s the water,” Madore said. “The lead and copper rules the state put in place in 2018, that’s what’s gonna drive our CIP almost exclusively. We’re being mandated to replace these water leads. There it will also tie into the roads because many of the undersized and old four-inch water mains need to be upgraded to a larger size. While you’re doing that, you’ll replace the water service leads from the main all the way to the meter at the same time.”
The third recommendation, budgeting for a new Comprehensive Master Plan, sets up the option for possible major changes to the Master Plan at the next review.
“The next five year review (the Planning Commission) might want to go and look and actually take some time and get our planners … to take a deeper dive and maybe make some significant changes so far as use areas or zoning,” Madore said.
The fourth recommendation is to “adopt additional plans and amendments identified by the Redevelopment Ready Communities (RRC) Evaluation,” according to the Village Clerk’s memo about the Planning Commission’s recommendations. RRC is a program run by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to help make it easier to get development projects going. The village’s zoning ordinance passed an MEDC review last year, though a few small things need to be tweaked before receiving full RRC certification.
The final recommendation is to combine the existing Master Plan, Near East Side Redevelopment Plan, Near West Side Redevelopment Plan and South Washington Plan into a single document.
While the changes are unlikely to have a major effect on day-to-day life, there is potential should the constituent plans go through.
“If some of these near east and near west side development plans came together, then there would be significant perhaps change in the scenery, the amenities, the amount of people who can be closer to downtown; walkable areas,” Madore said. “If you can add another 30, 40, 50 units in this ring close to downtown, that could make for a little bit more activity downtown.”