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City mulling new ordinances to match growth

OXFORD — As Oxford continues to grow, so does the demand for the availability of telecommunications for its citizens, which is why some new city ordinances are about to be adopted.

For instance, to ensure the city maintains control of work performed within the city rights of way, the Oxford Board of Aldermen is considering several changes and additions to some local ordinances.

If passed, a new ordinance will require contractors to get a permit before they can excavate, trench or bore in or under city rights of way. Any cuts in the street are to be repaired. A bond will be required and will be used to repair any damage caused by the permit holder if they fail to complete the work.

“This ensures the work will be completed properly,” City Engineer Bart Robinson said.

The trenching ordinance also requires companies to work together and coordinate their projects so there aren’t multiple cuts or disruptions to the street.

“The public works director has the right to refuse to allow work in an area where similar work has been performed within the past five years, with some exceptions for emergencies,” Robinson said.

Robinson said recent incidents have occurred that illustrate why this new law is needed. For example, telecommunication lines have been put in and the road has been fixed and repaved. and then another company requests to dig it up as little as six months later.

“We have also had instances where a section of roadway is essentially a construction work zone for an extended period because multiple utilities request to install lines one after the other,” he said.

A second ordinance would require another permit before a telecommunications company can install utilities on public rights of way and require them to pay a quarterly fee of 2 percent of gross receipts for access to, and use from, the rights of way.

“This fee will basically be charged on any profit that they make from lines placed on public rights of way,” Robinson said.

In the ordinance, AT&T and Metrocast would be excluded from these requirements because they already have state law and city franchise agreements in place that allow them to use the rights of way.

The final reading when the Oxford Board of Aldermen will vote to either approve or deny the new ordinances will be held Sept. 4. A public hearing was held this past week at a board of aldermen meeting. No one from the public commented on the proposed ordinance changes.

With more people living, working and going to school in the Oxford area, more parking spaces are needed to accommodate them. The city recently entered into a contract to purchase land next to the current city lot behind the Vieux Carré development that will provide about 100 new parking spaces.

A separate ordinance being considered by the aldermen would allow residential and commercial parking lots to create compact-car spaces, which are smaller in size.

Currently, residential districts are allowed to create parking spaces that are 8 feet, 6 inches wide and 18 feet long. In commercial areas, parking spaces are required to be 9 feet wide and 18 feet long.

If approved, the new ordinance would allow residential and commercial areas to build the smaller spaces for more compact cars at 8 feet wide and 16 feet long.

Compact-car spaces shall not be allowed to exceed 10 percent of the total number of spaces in the parking lot. Handicap spaces shall continue to be provided as required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Robinson said the city will build several compact spaces in future parking lots when needed.

“The city will work to maximize the number of parking spaces to best serve the needs of Oxford,” he said.



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