City leaders are working on a new comprehensive plan to guide decisions

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This website is called oxfordtomorrow.org and contains information about previous Steering Committee meetings and an overview of what a compensation plan is intended to achieve.

The city has retained MKSK, a Columbus-based planning/urban planning/landscape architecture firm, to manage the project.

Sam Perry, director of urban development, said Wednesday’s meeting will explain what is and is not a comprehensive plan. He encourages residents to get involved, regardless of how long they’ve been in town. He said they created an introductory video to explain the effort on the Oxford Tomorrow website.

“We expect to win some people who have never heard of a comprehensive plan. We’re going to try to pull them into the tent and let them know we want their opinions and ideas,” Perry said. “Some people may not even be here when their ideas are implemented.”

It has been 13 years since the last comprehensive plan was written, and the city has regularly attempted to update previous plans.

The introduction on Oxford Tomorrow’s website reads: “The new comprehensive plan will help shape future growth and change in the community for years to come. …Oxford is already a unique and exciting place. We invite all residents to get involved in the planning process and to contribute ideas on how Oxford can be even better.”

Perry said some states require such a plan, but Ohio does not. However, it is a valuable planning document, he said.

“We could just wait for it to happen or we don’t want to react. We want to see what we’re going to be when we grow up,” Perry said. “We are a corporate town. We wouldn’t exist without Miami University. We’re not sure what that will be like in 10 or 20 years’ time. I am looking forward. What if things change with Miami? Higher education isn’t as predictable as it used to be.”

Another important factor for future planning is the aging of the population. There aren’t as many births here as there used to be. Perry said Age Friendly Oxford’s efforts help raise awareness. The aging population is growing, as is the college-age population, as Miami increases its student enrollment.

“The rest stayed flat,” he said. “That’s the interesting thing about a college town.”

Another factor that differs from this version of the comprehensive plan is the increased discussion about the economic implications of decisions.

“Land use planning is abstract. It’s what we’d like to see, but it’s not saying whether we’re going to allow this or that, which has the impact on the city’s budget,” Perry said.

The website oxfordtomorrow.org explains the purpose of a compensation plan as follows:

“The city of Oxford has experienced continuous population growth and development over the last few decades. As of the 2020 census, the city’s population was 23,035, and that number is expected to grow to about 25,000 by 2030. Strategic planning allows the city to anticipate rather than react to growth. Comprehensive planning enables Oxford to prioritize community needs, judiciously allocate the city’s resources, direct private development and generate revenue to meet service and infrastructure needs, while supporting the community’s shared vision for the future to fulfil.”

Perry said they are using the website, social media, postcards, which are available in multiple locations, and every other possible means to educate people about the process, particularly this Wednesday’s meeting. There will also be opportunities for comments and ideas after the meeting.

“We accept handwritten comments or questions. They can be left in the city’s payment boxes where people pay their electric bills,” Perry said. “We assume that most people, even those who are here only briefly, have an opinion on something.”

In his comments at Wednesday’s meeting, Prytherch encouraged people to attend.

“This is the first truly open-to-public input session. It’s really important that people who want to have a say in our community show up,” he said.

Anyone interested in attending the virtual session can go to the website and scroll down to the “Upcoming Events” list and then click the register button next to the entry for Wednesday’s session.

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