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Chester County Press

Comprehensive Plan presented to Oxford Borough Council

02/14/2022 10:40PM ● By Steven Hoffman

At the beginning of the most recent meeting, Oxford Borough Council announced that they met in executive session on Monday, Jan. 31 to discuss personnel matters related to terms and conditions of employment and to consult with the solicitor regarding information or strategy in connection with claims raised by Sycamore Crossing Homeowners Association.

Borough Council also approved a motion to ratify the statement that was released by Oxford Borough regarding comments made at the Jan. 18 Oxford Area School Board meeting.

Mark T. Gallant, a senior community planner with the Chester County Planning Commission, spoke before Borough Council on Feb. 7, explaining the Comprehensive Plan process. He listed the priorities as voiced by stakeholders after the public feedback from the open house series, stakeholder meetings, and public survey results. The priorities, listed in no specific order, included the following:

~ Parks and Recreation/ events

~ Connectivity and safety

~ Borough character/facilitate business opportunities

~ Manager development

~ Fair and competent codes enforcement

~ Communication, engagement, and inclusion 

~ Infrastructure management 

` Environment and preservation

Moving forward, council president Kathryn Cloyd said, there will be discussions on the progress of the plan. She spoke about the new format of the council meetings, saying the first meeting of the month will be focused on educating council on issues to be addressed, while the second meeting will be a regular business meeting.  She stressed that votes may be taken at either meeting. Both meetings are open to the public and will be advertised per the requirements of the Sunshine Act.

Cloyd does plan to minimize committee meetings, explaining that temporary work groups including no more than three council members will be created for the purpose of preparing information to bring to council at the education meetings. She will assign a lead member. Work groups may invite borough residents to provide input. Each work group will decide how it will coordinate its activities and communicate among work group members. Those will not be public meetings.

Cloyd emphasized that the work groups’ purpose will be educating council members about topics they may need to be asked to vote on, and she also said that she feels one of the most significant votes of 2022 will be the adoption of the 10-year Comprehensive Plan. Many of the topics addressed in education meetings in the first half of the year will be derived from the list of priorities  identified in the Comprehensive Plan.

Cloyd had previously said, “It is hoped that flexibility of the work groups and their meeting times will make it easier, especially for members with children, to participate.”

The only remaining standing committee will be the Personnel Committee which will continue to be chaired by council vice president Mary Higgins. 

The Finance Oversight Committee is still being firmed up. Peggy Ann Russell and Amanda Birdwell will co-chair the committee. The third council member has not been appointed yet. There was an ongoing discussion about whether these would be public meetings and how often the meetings will be held. Council has previously stressed how important it is to them to make matters concerning the budget transparent to residents.

In other business, council approved a motion to ratify a statement by the Oxford Borough Council regarding comments made at the Jan. 18 Oxford Area School Board meeting.

Council also approved a motion for two projects for Meloria Design, a green infrastructure design firm, to complete site plans and cost estimates as part of a Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns Grant Award from the Chesapeake Bay Trust. Meliora previously surveyed the borough and identified various types of projects and possible locations throughout the borough. They then received public input to narrow the projects down to two that Meliora would develop concept plans and a cost estimate for. This will enable the borough to apply for grant funding to complete the projects over time. The two projects chosen are on borough-owned property.

Borough manager Pauline Garcia-Allen presented a state-of-the-borough report for council. 

The report provides an assessment of challenges and opportunities that she has identified as priorities for 2022. The report is intended to inform on the work that needs to be done in order to provide context for council’s decisions over the next year. The following projects and priorities were identified:

Community Education & Communication:

~ 2022 Budget Education Initiative

~ Updates and improvements to the borough website

~ Ensuring borough materials, forms and communications are available in Spanish 

Borough Code of Ordinances, Permitting and Processes (Working with the Planning Commission & Council to):

~ Update the Subdivision and Land Development Ordinance

~ Develop a comprehensive Commercial Use & Occupancy Ordinance

~ Adopt the 2018 ICC and 2021 IPMC

~ Update/amend the sidewalk and curb ordinance

~ Update ordinances that manage and regulate parking

~ Improve Commercial U&O permit process

~ Update building permit process and fees

Internal Processes, Personnel and Appointments:

~ Improve IT platforms and processes

~ Reorganization of codes department

~ Develop job descriptions and identify professional growth opportunities

~ Work with Oxford Police Association on new CBA agreement.

Asset Management:

~ Develop a Capital Improvement Plan

~ Complete this year’s capital improvements as identified in the 2022 Capital Budget

~ Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit Requirements:
~ Part of the regulations associated with the Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) administered under the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Program.

~ Finalize the Borough’s Pollutant Reduction Plan (PRP)

~ Implement a Stormwater Management Program

~ Work to secure grant funding for PRP projects