OXFORD – Four and a half years of work was completed, for now at least, with a joint public hearing July 25 for the Oxford Region Multimunicipal Comprehensive Plan.
A task force composed of representatives from all six municipalities in the Oxford Area School District met monthly with help from the Chester County Planning Commission. Elk, East Nottingham, West Nottingham, Lower Oxford, Upper Oxford and Oxford Borough were all involved in the process that first looked at the region then came up with goals and recommendations on how to meet them. While all of the municipalities took part in writing the plan, East Nottingham was notable by its absence when the others voted to approve the document.
The new Comprehensive Plan looks at twelve major issues including housing, economic development, community service, transportation, open space, agriculture, recreation, natural resources and energy.
What the plan does not do is change any of the present zoning ordinances or zoning maps. That is left to the individual townships to address later when an implementation agreement eventually comes before the municipalities.
The public hearing at the Herr's Visitor Center did not generate much in the way of public comment, with only a few questions on whether or not there would be a tax impact if rezoning takes place.
Members of each board of supervisors and the Oxford Borough Council came to the front of the room in turn to formally vote and approve their part in the plan. The one notable exception was East Nottingham that, unlike the others, did not have a quorum of members present for action.
If East Nottingham eventually decides it wants to be a part of the regional plan that the members helped develop over the past four years, they will have to advertise their own public hearing to vote on adoption. It is also possible that the township could sign on to the implementation agreement without adopting the Regional Comprehensive Plan.
East Nottingham's absence from the plan does not change the document. 'The plan still has been adopted by the other five municipalities. I think there will be some effort by the Chester County Planning Commission to work with East Nottingham to answer whatever questions caused them to pause and not act this evening,' said Stacey Fuller, attorney for the Task Force. 'If, in the end, they do not adopt, it will not affect the other five municipalities that did in fact adopt it as their Comprehensive Plan.'
Chester County Planning Commission Planner Mark Gallant explained that East Nottingham's absence does not destroy the plan, but because the township is within the Sewer Authority's plan for new service areas in the future their presence would be helpful.
'They could work with the rest of the region in terms of transferable development rights (TDR) to potentially be a receiving area for commercial uses or residential uses if they wish to do so,' Gallant said. 'Because that is the only infrastructure that is planned for the region that could put a damper on the idea of sharing uses and a regional TDR, but because Oxford Borough is still on board as well as the village center here in Nottingham a regional TDR could be put in place even if they are not involved in the process.'
Gallant said he hopes that East Nottingham will reconsider their position. 'We're going to work with the municipality to clarify the issues that are not clear for them. I think there may be some miscommunication on what the implementation agreement is and what their responsibilities are around the implementation agreement.'