Milton council accepts Granary report

Annexation request now moves to planners
November 3, 2021

Milton Town Council has unanimously accepted an advisory report recommending the annexation of 450 acres that would be developed into the 1,350-unit The Granary at Draper Farm community.

At its Nov. 1 meeting, council forwarded the Granary project to the Milton Planning and Zoning Commission for review.

Council approved the advisory report from the special review committee, which spent nearly two months reviewing the project, questioning utility and public safety officials, and producing a project cost/benefit analysis. 

That analysis found that the advantages of annexing the parcel outweighed the disadvantages. Among the advantages were that the annexation and subsequent development would increase the town’s parkland and open space, utility fund revenues and tax base, along with providing business opportunities. Another positive factor is that the area is already targeted for growth in the town’s comprehensive development plan.

Disadvantages include needs for road improvements, increased town staff, and additional office space for town employees. The report also noted that the town will be impacted by the development whether the land is annexed into Milton or not.

A report prepared for the town by the University of Delaware’s Institute for Public Administration states that over the proposed 20-year development period between 2024 and 2043, the town stands likely to make an estimated $15 million in revenues. That projection is based on a sale price of $585,000 for each 3,000-square-foot house and $380,000 for each 2,500-square-foot unit. 

In turn, over the 20-year development time frame, the town would be projected to spend more than $3 million, with most of those costs related to additional employees and equipment. Among the new hires likely needed over that period would be six new police officers and six public works department employees. 

During council’s discussion of the report Nov. 1, the main issue was the revenue that would be generated by home sales. Councilman Sam Garde said he believed the institute’s estimation was too high and should be reviewed further. Town Manager Kristy Rogers said she was comfortable with the estimate, but was willing to work with the institute to review the numbers.

Garde also asked whether the cost of facilities, such as a new town hall or police station, was included in the estimate. Rogers said facilities were not included, in part because the town has a charter change in the General Assembly for a special development district, which would give the town the ability to levy a special tax on residents of the Granary that would help pay for infrastructure necessitated by the development.

The project, brought forward by developer Convergence Communities, would nearly double the number of residents in Milton once it is built out, at more than 2,600. The development would include 55 acres of parkland and open space, a pedestrian/bicycle trail and 60,000 square feet of potential commercial space. Convergence Communities has also proposed building a tunnel under Sand Hill Road to connect the Granary’s trail to the Rails to Trails near Lavinia Street. 

The project will now head to planning and zoning for consideration of the annexation and, eventually, preliminary site-plan review. 

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