Time for Business Improvement District plan to be approved in Oxford
● By Steven Hoffman
Oxford Borough Council unanimously voted in favor of authorizing the distribution of a new, five-year Business Improvement District (BID) plan at its meeting on Aug. 21.
The BID plan must be reauthorized every five years. Oxford Mainstreet, Inc. (OMI), the organization responsible for overseeing economic development in the borough, will be leading the effort to get the new plan approved this fall. The vote by Oxford Borough Council allows OMI to proceed with its necessary work.
The BID plan includes a special assessment that is paid by property owners of the buildings and businesses that are situated within the boundary of the Business Improvement District—and the assessment is on those buildings and businesses alone. This special assessment raises approximately $42,000 annually. That money is then used to partially fund the operations of OMI. The special assessment amounts to about $700 per business, per year. Several business owners offered their support for the renewal of the BID plan, noting that they get a lot of value for that $700.
By authorizing the distribution of the plan, Oxford Borough Council is allowing OMI to distribute the plan to all property owners in the BID. Once the property owners are able to review the BID plan, those property owners will then vote to approve or disapprove the plan. If the plan is approved, this would be the third time that the BID plan has been authorized in Oxford.
In other business at the meeting, borough council member Sue Lombardi, who serves on the borough's Codes Committee, provided an update about the formation of a Sidewalk Committee that would take a comprehensive look at sidewalk regulations and enforcement of those regulations throughout the borough. Lombardi said that at least two current Codes Committee members will also be serving on the Sidewalk Committee. However, the majority of the committee will likely be comprised of borough residents who want to serve to help shape the new sidewalk regulations. Lombardi talked about the need to have community involvement in the process.
“I want the community to have the opportunity to have a voice in this moving forward,” Lombardi said, explaining that the Sidewalk Committee will have a lot of information to review before it can offer a recommendation on a new Sidewalk Ordinance to borough council.
Rev. Kerry Slinkard, pastor of the Oxford Presbyterian Church, took the proactive step of requesting that borough officials keep the church in mind, and to keep the church officials informed about the construction work on the proposed parking garage that could start as early as 2018. The parking garage is proposed for a lot that is directly across from the church. A small alley separates the church from the lot.
“We are the ones going to be most affected by the construction process,” Slinkard said, explaining the need for the church to be kept informed about disruptions that might be caused by the construction work.
Slinkard noted that the church members utilize the Octoraro Alley to access the church's parking lot, and the main concern for the church is that they would lose that access.
Borough manager Brian Hoover assured Slinkard that all the heavy equipment will be kept in the parking lot where the parking garage would be built, so the alley should be open and available for people to use during the construction process.
Slinkard added that the church has some ancillary concerns, such as ensuring that the parking garage is safe at all times, that will factors once the garage is constructed.
Kent Morey, P.E., of Spotts, Stevens, & McCoy, the firm that provides engineering services to Oxford Borough, provided an update to borough council about the preparation of a MS4 Pollution Reduction Plan that will keep the borough in compliance with the state's environmental regulations.
Morey explained that the 2010 census data showed that Oxford Borough is now in an urbanized area, and as a result the municipality is tasked, by March of 2018, to have an approved plan in place about how the borough will meet the requirement to reduce sediment by 10 percent. This reduction must take place by 2023. The goal is to reduce the amount of sediment that is ending up in streams.
Morey informed council that efforts to work in collaboration with neighboring East Nottingham Township on a joint plan did not result in the necessary cost-savings to make it worthwhile for the borough. As a result, the borough is now finalizing a plan on its own. The plan will be available for public review. Council is expected to approve the final plan in mid-September to meet the deadline.
Oxford Borough Council accepted the resignation of both Denise Stevenson and David Ogino from the borough's Zoning Hearing Board. Oxford is actively seeking applicants from borough residents who would like to serve on this board.
Mayor Geoff Henry issued two proclamations during the meeting. Noting that September is National Library Card Sign-Up Month, Henry encouraged everyone to pick up a library card at the Oxford Library so that they can avail themselves of the ample resources that are there.
Henry also proclaimed September as the Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Henry noted that cancer is a leading cause of disease-related deaths among children under the age of 18.
Council member Paul Matthews, who runs the Eli Seth Matthews Leukemia Foundation in memory of his son, said that gold ribbons will be placed throughout the borough in September.
“Gold is the color of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month,” he explained.