Skip to main content

Chester County Press

Juarez-Lara, Jr. sworn in for four-year term on Oxford Borough Council

01/03/2024 12:22PM ● By Betsy Brewer Brantner

It wasn’t the night before Christmas, but it was the last Oxford Borough Council meeting of the year, which created its own excitement as one of the borough’s younger constituents looked on quietly from her father’s lap.

Raul Juarez- Lara, Jr., who previously replaced a council member who chose to resign, was sworn in for four more years beginning on  Jan. 2, 2024. The first Latino on this council, and the youngest council member to be sworn in to office, he has stepped up to proudly represent his constituents in the borough. In another first, he held his daughter for half of the meeting, and she behaved perfectly. It is hoped that she will follow in her father’s footsteps one day.

All of this was the perfect ending of a busy and eventful year for Oxford Borough Council, which saw many firsts. By the end of the year, council meetings were held in front of residents that showed up in great numbers, asked tough questions, and made their opinions known. Hopefully, this will be the new normal in the coming year.

The good news for Oxford Borough continued as Rob Malone, the director of programs for the Housing Partnership of Chester County, presented his own gift to the Borough of Oxford. 

Malone will be working with the borough to introduce them to the HPCC’s First Time Home Buyer Program. The program is intended to assist low-moderate income individuals and families interested in purchasing a first home in Chester County. The program provides pre-purchase home ownership counseling and a loan for down payment and closing costs to first-time buyers.

The program is aimed at rehabilitating blighted properties with health and safety hazards and turning them into first homes.

Oxford Borough manager Pauline Garcia-Allen saw this as a win-win for the borough.

“We have abandoned properties in the borough and we could use this program as a tool to help the borough and to provide a first home for an eligible buyer,” she said.

Malone explained, “There are a lot of variables to this program. We want to do it right from the beginning. We are a non-profit. It is important that we retain the borough’s integrity too.”

More information on this program will be forthcoming in the future.

Mark Gallant, from the Chester County Planning Commission, attended the council meeting to talk about the Comprehensive Plan for the borough.

“I’m here to listen to any comments from the public or council. The plan will be submitted to Chester County Planning Commission for Act 247 approval. It will also go to the surrounding municipalities and the Oxford School District,” he said.

The Oxford Borough Comprehensive Plan is a policy document intended to provide long-range guidance for a municipality regarding topics such as land use, economic development, transportation, housing, community facilities, and resource protection. The plan defines a vision for Oxford Borough’s future, identifies existing conditions, and provides a series of actions to achieve that vision over the next ten years.

A draft of the plan can be found at A hard copy of the plan will be available for public review and comment at Borough Hall, located at 1 Octoraro Alley in Oxford, each Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. through Feb. 4, 2024.

Comments must be submitted in writing by that date to Borough Hall, mailed to the attention of the Borough Manager or by email to [email protected], and must include the person's name and address. Comments can also be made in person at the Oxford Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024 at Borough Hall at 6:30 p.m.  Oxford Borough Council will hold a public hearing and consider adoption of the Comprehensive Plan at the regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024 at 7 p.m.

In other business, Police Chief Sam Iacono told council, “The Live Scan is hooked up and will soon be connected to the county. We will be training our officers, and hopefully using it by the end of the week.”

Progress has been made on the accreditation process for the Oxford Police Department and it is hoped that the actual assessment will take place in January.

Oxford Borough Mayor Phil Harris noted that the First Friday event in December was cancelled because of inclement weather. A smaller version of the event took place a week later.

Solicitor Stacey Fuller gave council an update on several legal issues.

“We are waiting to hear about the Moran Farm,” she explained. “The ball is in their court.” Fuller said that she was in communication with the developer for Sycamore Crossing.

“We are hoping to hear something from them in January. The developer did ask for additional time to take care of outstanding items,” she explained.

Garcia-Allen updated council on the Sunny Dell Foods canning company.

“They are the largest water user in the borough,” Fuller explained. “We are moving forward with the analysis of two wells on their property. Their water use is a concern for us. They will be working with our engineers to work on issues that are important to us. They will cover the cost of our engineers.”

Alliance Environmental Systems has finished debris removal from the location of the large fire that hit downtown Oxford in September. The borough is working with the property owners to repair the sidewalk. Progress is expected in the next few weeks.

In other business during the meeting, Oxford Borough Council approved the following:

  • A resolution authorizing a Memorandum of Understanding between Oxford Borough and the Housing Partnership of Chester County regarding the reduction of blight utilizing the abandoned and blighted property conservatorship act;
  • The adoption of the 2024 General Fund and Water Fund budgets;
  • A hearing to adopt the tax levy ordinance;
  • The acceptance of the Strategic Management Plan prepared by Keystone Municipal Solutions;
  • A Letter of Intent to the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services to request technical assistance through a peer review of the police department and to assess the feasibility of the regional consolidation of police services;
  • A resolution terminating the Declaration of Disaster Emergency dated Sept. 14, 2023. This declaration was related to the downtown Oxford fire.
  • The Sycamore Crossing phases 6 and 7 Financial Security Agreement;
  • The Sycamore Crossing escrow release in the amounts of $20,090.80 for Phase 3 Request No. 6 and $42,537.11for Phase 5B, Request No. 5.
  • A Soil Sampling Access Agreement between the Community of Love Lutheran Church and the Borough of Oxford; and
  • The HARB Certificate of Appropriateness for 424 Hodgson Street.