January 18, 2012 - Oxford Township got one step closer to securing property for a future fire station should the need ever arise.
Last week, township officials voted 7-0 to rezone approximately 3.25 acres of vacant land located on the west side of M-24, just north of X-Celsior Drive.
The land is being rezoned from Suburban Farms (SF-2), which calls for a minimum of 5-acre lots, to Light Industrial (I-1), which has a 1-acre minimum requirement.
The rezoning is contingent on the land's current owners, American Aggregates and the Edward C. Levy Company, deeding the property over to the township as a donation. It's also contingent on a lot split being approved.
Township Supervisor Bill Dunn thanked the companies for their generosity to the community.
"At a meeting, they told myself and the (fire) chief to go out and pick a site," he said.
Dunn explained that because of this donation if the township ever needs land for another fire station north of the village, officials won't "have to go out in a panic and pay top dollar for it."
Fire Chief Pete Scholz noted this land donation didn't happen overnight. It was the culmination of a long process.
"Former Chief (Jack) LeRoy had written numerous letters to American Aggregates and Levy over the last probably 15 years trying to make them aware that we were in need of the property," he said. "I myself (when I became chief in 2008) did the exact same thing . . . This has been ongoing for a long time."
"The biggest thing is the cost-savings Ė not having to buy property. We're getting it for nothing," Scholz noted. "If you had to actually go out there and pay for 3.25 acres at the going rate, it would be extremely (cost) prohibitive."
American Aggregates/Levy was initially planning to donate 2.5 acres, but then increased it to 3.25 acres.
Whether or not a station is ever built on this site will depend on how much growth that area experiences in the coming years, according to Scholz.
A station at that location would be good news for residents living in the northeasternmost part of the township.
According to Scholz, right now, residents in northeastern Sections 1 and 12 are outside the 5-mile radius from the main fire station in downtown Oxford.
This prevents them from having a lower Public Protection Classification (PPC), and in turn, the possibility of reduced homeowners insurance premiums.
PPC ratings are calculated by the Chicago, Illinois-based Insurance Services Office (ISO) and used to determine the level of fire protection in communities.
ISO objectively reviews the fire suppression capabilities of a community and assigns a PPC ranging from 1 to 10. The lower the number, the better. Class 1 represents exemplary fire protection whereas Class 10 indicates the area's fire suppression program does not meet minimum criteria.
Most insurers use PPC numbers for underwriting and calculating premiums for residential, commercial and industrial properties, according to ISO.
Right now, township Sections 1 and 12 are rated Class 9.
Scholz explained if a fire station were ever built on the donated property, those two sections "should be able to" achieve Class 5 status, like every other area in the township that's located more than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.
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.