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'Mixed use' bone of contention in new master plan

December 21, 2011 - Oxford Township's new master plan squeaked by officials in a 4-3 vote last week.

The bone of contention was the new "mixed use" designation on the future land use plan and map.

"I think it's just a very bad idea," said Trustee Melvin (Buck) Cryderman, who voted against the plan.

According to the plan, the mixed use designation "is intended to promote development of property in a manner that allows mixed industrial, commercial and residential development, promotes economic development, and promotes employment, tax base and redevelopment."

Developments in the mixed use area can incorporate things like the latest innovations in stormwater management, green technology and energy efficiency.

Part of the idea behind mixed use developments is to provide "an attractive transition between residential and non-residential properties." One of the ways it can do this is by remediating "degraded properties and blight."

Most of the mixed use area consists of large tracts of land along M-24, north and south of Ray Rd.

However, there are small pockets of mixed use slated for Lakeville Rd. on the site of what is now Koenig Sand & Gravel and at the intersection of Seymour Lake and Baldwin roads.

"They're not big lots," said Trustee Mike Spisz, who serves on the planning commission. "So, we're talking like maybe a small office building."

He explained the mixed use designation is designed to allow some "flexibility" when it comes to the future development of these properties. Spisz made it clear this future land use designation in no way changes the current zoning of these properties.

"They are not being rezoned at this time," he said. "To even change any of those locations from what they are today to a mixed use, they (would have) to go through the rezoning process."

Spisz explained the future land use map is simply a tool showing "where we think we're going to be 15-20 years from now."

"It could change in five years when we review (the master plan) again," he said.

Cryderman felt the township already has enough zoning districts to accommodate future commercial and industrial development. He saw no need to add more by adding mixed use in residential areas.

"Are we going to have a factory on every corner before we're through here?" he said. "It seems like we're going overboard (on) this."

With regard to the mixed use lots at Seymour Lake and Baldwin roads, Spisz, who lives in that area, noted, "I personally don't ever believe that they'll ever put anything residential on either one of those corners."

Trustee Sue Bellairs, who voted against the master plan, also opposed the mixed use designation because it's too vague, in her opinion, as to what type of development would go there. "I just don't like that word (mixed)," she said. "I think it needs to be defined – this is what it's going to be."

Planning Commissioner Jack Curtis told this reporter he views the mixed use designation as "just another tool to expedite good planning in our community" by allowing the flexibility necessary to attract the "industries of the future."

"If you want people to come to Oxford, you have to provide services, you have to provide employment for the community," he said.

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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