Woodstock and SWOX are in negotiations for boundary adjustments

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The Township of South-West Oxford wants Woodstock to pay $200,000 for land within its borders, but the city isn't ready to commit to that.

The city ' s boundary adjustment committee will update council Thursday on the progress of negotiations with South-West Oxford regarding a proposed boundary expansion.

The city is looking to expand its borders into land currently within the Township of South-West Oxford, with negotiations starting earlier this year.

"(Woodstock) needs more land," said Coun. Connie Lauder, who sits on the boundary adjustment committee."

The community and strategic planning did a report that we received at the end of September, and the residential and vacant land supply is dwindling. It's recommended that we have a 20-year supply, and we ' re getting down more into the 15-year supply ." With all of the construction going on in the city, Lauder said the vacant land supply will continue to shrink, adding city officials don ' t want to wait until it becomes a serious situation."

It was suggested that both north and south of the Thames River and west of the city is where we should be looking for additional lands to be annexed into the city ," she said.

Oxford County Warden and South-West Oxford Mayor David Mayberry said his council has yet to discuss the city's counter offer.

"They need to understand that density and encouraging greater efficiency is in the interest of the township ," he said. " We want to preserve as much farmland as we can.

"We also think that if growth is good and beneficial for the city, then they would probably want to share some of that growth and benefit with the township on an ongoing basis, so we would be looking at some kind of benefit in perpetuity."

During negotiations, the township proposed the city make a lump sum one-time payment of $200,000 for the land. The township referred to the boundary adjustment with East-Zorra Tavistock (EZT) for precedent, where the city paid $200,000 to EZT to reimburse township assets that were being transferred to the city.

"(EZT) had just spent a lot of money on Fredrick Street and they wanted to recover their assets ," Lauder said of that payment. " That was really a compensation agreement with EZT. We have asked the township in our counter offer if there is any assets or improvements that have occurred in that area that would warrant a one-time payment like that ."

The original offer made by the city was for a total of 224 acres of land, with the net developable land being 146 acres. in May, the township countered with 106 acres, with 76 acres being developable. it cited concerns over the potential for future conflict with a gravel pit licensing and removed lands north of Karn Road. the city then countered with a revised offer that proposes to incorporate an official plan restriction on development of all vacant lands beyond the boundaries proposed by the township to Karn Road. the city is proposing a five-year restriction on development of the southerly lands but plans to development into that land after that period.

"There is gravel that (the township) is concerned about in the area furthest to the south," Lauder said.

"It was getting closer into the gravelled areas.

"So it did get reduced considerably, but this works for us too -the lesser acreage that they are purposing that they are proposing for us to bring into the city."

South-West Oxford also proposed the city make royalty payments of 12 per cent of the city ' s share of the property taxes collected in each year. The township pointed to the boundary adjustment agreement between the city and Blandford-Blenheim Township for precedent of ongoing royalty payments.

In 2005, the city agreed to a 12 per cent royalty payment with Blandford-Blenheim Township as part of the boundary adjustment that brought the Toyota lands into the city.

"In Blandford-Blenheim, those lands are for industrial or commercial property classes, and the tax ratio there is much higher than on residential," Lauder said. "There's no ability to offer royalty payments. We've never done that in the past and that would be setting a precedent. That ' s something that I can ' t see happening, that we would get into something like that."

Lauder said the city will counter South-West Oxford ' s proposal with an annual payment in the total of the township's own purpose tax levy, which is approximately $23,100.

South-West Oxford also proposed a incentive for the city to achieve full development of the target lands within 25 years, with failure to meet those thresholds resulting financial penalties paid to the township.

The Township of South West Oxford has yet to discuss the city's counter offer and negotiations are still ongoing.

City council will be updated on these negotiations at its meeting this Thursday.

bchessell@postmedia.com

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