26 September, 2020

Oxford’s poaching past

Oxford’s longtime mayor stated that during 1999, returned when Calhoun County’s largest towns constantly warred over the destiny of Anniston’s quirky airport that’s surrounded by Oxford land south of Interstate 20. Anniston funded the airport and desired to annex it; Oxford refused.

Remember when the past due Gene Stedham, then Anniston’s mayor, pressed the issue? It’s my preferred Leon Smith tale — traditional Leon — a story of brimstone and political threats. Good instances, they have been.

Stedham, as had his predecessors, attempted to barter. That didn’t paintings. Stedham sought help from the country Legislature. Smith, who died in 2017, became incredulous.

He vowed to “combat it with everything I ever have.”

He threatened Stedham with annexation retaliation.

“If he desires to poach, I will poach,” he stated.

Smith’s target: Golden Springs.

Neither occasion occurred. Anniston didn’t annex the airport. Oxford didn’t annex Anniston’s over-the-mountain subdivision. But given what’s happening right now — a nonprofit’s clandestine effort to have Anniston’s Ward 4 and some different basically white neighborhoods legislatively transferred to Oxford — Smith’s dusty risk to steal Golden Springs is both instructive and unsurprising.

Geography and demographics have constantly related to Golden Springs, where I stay, to Oxford. On quiet nights I can hear I-20 traffic from my lower back door. Most of Anniston’s fourth ward is (unofficial) Northeast Oxford, the center-elegance and ordinarily white suburb that pours cash into coins registers at Oxford Exchange.

Never forget that Oxford Mayor Alton Craft studied at Smith’s City Hall. Craft has both been coy, secretive or complicit with the Forward 4 All nonprofit’s effort to de-annex nearly 10,000 Anniston citizens and feature their homes annexed into Oxford. It’s likely a piece of all 3, to be honest.

He instructed The Star ultimate week that he hadn’t visible Forward 4 All’s a draft invoice. I anticipate real. But what he didn’t inform The Star is that he and different Oxford officers had apparently met several times with forwarding four All representatives. His hypersensitivity to returning phone calls from a Star reporter in search of statistics approximately those conferences is telling.

Here’s the latest scene to ponder. Two weeks ago, all seven Calhoun County mayors sat aspect-by-side on the Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the Cities collecting. The morning’s Kumbaya subject matter centered on the county’s mayoral friendship and teamwork — something we by no means heard while Smith ruled the county’s political paths.

Left unsaid that morning is that Oxford had apparently already listened to forwarding 4 All’s a pitch that, if applied, might decimate Anniston, damage its financial destiny and restrict its ability to fund the pension debts of its retired firemen and policemen.

Kumbaya, certainly.

Widespread annexation is written into Oxford’s playbook — which isn’t bad, with the aid of the way. As Oxford blossomed after the finishing touch of I-20, annexation fueled the town’s bodily, and economic, increase.

Smith fought Anniston in the mid-Nineties for DeArmanville’s annexation rights. “We’ve by no means became all people down who desired into the town of Oxford,” he stated in 1994. Oxford then annexed extra than eight,000 acres of land in the first decade of this century.

Oxford’s obstacles stretch into 3 counties — Calhoun, Talladega and Cleburne. When Oxford annexed Cleburne County land along I-20 in 2013, Councilman Steven Waits admitted that this “is truly going to increase the footprint of Oxford. This is only a splendid annexation for the metropolis.” Of course, that land wasn’t controversially deannexed from one town to sign up for some other.

The Oxford City Council nearly 3 years in the past accepted a long-variety plan that included a universal making plans-region map that extended one mile beyond the town’s felony boundary.

Hello, Golden Springs.

In that plan, metropolis officials wrote: “Oxford attracts to it greater human beings, companies and private investment every 12 months. The underlying question is how to increase should be channeled. That is the function of Oxford’s continuing making plans method and the mission of this Comprehensive Plan — to assure boom and change is well suited with the vision the humans of Oxford have set for his or her network.”

Anniston and Oxford are joined at the hip, unrelated in-legal guidelines that on occasion get alongside but are liable to protracted arguments. In truth, they actually don’t like each other. Smith never valued civic teamwork, an immature political stance he handed down the road. That it took Anniston too lengthy to outlive its historic uppityness didn’t assist. But it’s no longer Oxford’s fault that Anniston’s woes — mainly self-inflicted woes — are why some Ward four residents are seeking for a southern getaway course.

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