The Oxford Board of Aldermen has given
a thumbs down to a proposal to raise the speed
limit on portions of West Jackson Avenue.
board meeting, Mayor Richard Howorth and Public Works Director David Bennett recommended to
aldermen that the speed limit be raised from 30 to
40 mph from Heritage Drive to Highway 6 and
from Sorority Row to Fraternity Row.
While city ordinances
designate all streets as 30 mph unless otherwise marked, Bennett
said that a state law provides for speed limits to be set
based on engineering and traffic studies. A recent three-day traffic study
showed the median speed on that portion of the road
was 39.8 mph, he said. Aldermen weren't convinced.
"As a lay person, it really doesn't
make sense to me that the faster people
go, the higher you set the speed limit," said Ward
3 Alderman Janice Antonow.
As part of their
justification against raising the speed limit, Antonow and fellow
board members noted upcoming construction projects along Jackson
Avenue which include the last phase of
the Jackson Avenue expansion, a new
intersection at the north-south corridor and possibly a major reconfiguration of
the intersection at Highway 6.
Oxford Police Chief Steve Bramlett said the
increase from 30 to 40 mph along the 2.1-mile stretch would save
drivers 63 seconds if they caught all the green lights. It would
also greatly increase the risk of serious injury if an accident were
to occur, he said.
"We've discussed it back and forth," Howorth
said, adding he feels 40 mph is a "reasonable" limit.
"I've noticed myself going down Jackson Avenue,
I tend to — especially now in my present occupation — obey the speed
limit. Sometimes it feels like I'm going in slow motion."
he ordered the placement of 40 mph speed limit
signs on West Jackson Avenue about two weeks ago and will now
have to replace them. Until then, drivers can go 40
mph without breaking the law, he said.
Aldermen agreed to reconsider the proposal to
raise the speed limit after the last phase of the Jackson Avenue
expansion is completed some time in 2004.
In other business Tuesday, the Board of
— Began the process of amending city ordinances
to require a fee for preliminary plat approval of new subdivisions
and commercial developments. Bennett said site plan review meetings
require the time and expertise of all city department heads, who
have many other responsibilities on a given day.
The proposed changes, which will be up for
public comment at the board's Dec. 3 meeting, would require payment
of $100 plus $5 per lot when a preliminary subdivision plat is
The proposed changes will also charge $100 for
the first on-site inspection of a subdivision and $200 for each
subsequent inspection until the project is brought into compliance
with all city codes. Fees for commercial developments will be $100
for site plan review, $50 for the first inspection and $75 for
— Began the process of setting a rate for the
use of city parking spaces and other public property for storage of
materials and equipment during construction. The city is considering
a charge of $8 per day for each 200-square-foot parking space, and
would require the bill to be paid before granting a certificate of
zoning compliance at the end of the project. Before a public hearing
at the Dec. 3 meeting, city staff will also look into requiring a
permit to close a street for construction purposes and how to
address the use of city streets outside the Central Business
— Approved a change order of $51,000 for Phase
One of the Goose Creek Sewer Rehabilitation project due to the
unforeseen poor condition of the soil along West Jackson Avenue. The
project is being funded in full by a Community Development Block
Grant and Bennett said he is hopeful that the grant will also cover
the additional costs.
— Approved a proclamation declaring the
existence of a local emergency in the wake of the Nov. 10 storm
which caused $79,000 in damage to the city and $120,000 in damage to
on the University of Mississippi campus. Oxford Fire Chief Jerry
Johnson said the city should hear by the end of the week whether the
city's declaration will be approved by the Federal Emergency
— Agreed to advertise for bids on three
electricity generators to serve City Hall, the city shop and the
public works building, all of which lost power during the recent
Bennett said that city crews working overnight
to clear streets and restore power in the wake of the storm had to
use flashlights to find the materials they needed. In the event of a
more serious emergency, the mayor and aldermen would need lights and
telephones in order to set up a command post in the basement of City
— Agreed to consider an amendment to the city's
animal ordinance proposed by the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society
which would raise the cost of dog licenses for animals who have not
been spayed or neutered. City residents are currently required to
purchase a $5 license for their dogs; the change would raise the
price for intact animals to $10 or $15.
— Authorized the mayor to engage legal services
for the purpose of reviewing the city's contract with Baptist
Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi. The board has wanted for many
months to better understand the contract through which the city and
Lafayette County lease the hospital building to Baptist, but city
attorneys Mayo Mallette PLLC cannot help due to a conflict of
— Authorized the hiring of six new police
officers and agreed to continue advertising to fill two more open
slots in the department. Joining OPD are: Scott Roberts, Corey
Burrow, LeShaun McWright, Andy McGregor and Scott McDonald.
— Promoted Raymond Owens to fill the lineman
crew spot left by the resignation of Eddie Magee and authorized the
advertisement for a right-of-way foreman to fill Owens' former