Milton council approves two annexations

Use agreements are next steps in process
October 20, 2020

Milton Town Council has approved two ordinances that will pave the way for a pair of Route 16 parcels to be brought into town. 

At its Oct. 5 regular meeting, council unanimously approved an ordinance for Milton Attainable Housing LLC to annex 26 acres of property at the corner of Route 16 and Country Road. By a 5-1 vote, council approved an ordinance for BBD LLC to annex a 7.68-acre parcel at the intersection of Union Street Extended and Route 16. 

Town Solicitor Seth Thompson said the annexations were handled via ordinance because of the zoning aspects involved, as the lands being annexed into town needed zoning designations and an amendment to the comprehensive development plan reflecting the new zoning to happen first.

This, however, is just the beginning of the process. 

Milton Attainable Housing, a joint project of developer Preston Schell and businessman Eric Sugrue, has proposed a mixed commercial/residential development with four commercial pad sites and 239 residential housing units. The residential component will come in the form of 14 multifamily housing structures with 12 to 24 units in each building. The site will also have a dog park for small and large dogs, a swimming pool and a clubhouse. The residential units will be at the rear of the property with the commercial sites fronting Route 16.

Milton Attainable Housing’s proposal calls for zoning five acres of the land C-1 commercial and the rest R-3 residential. 

The main concern town council had Oct. 5 was regarding the lack of sidewalks and pedestrian access through the development, as well as traffic on Bay Road, where one of the entrances to the property will be. Schell said he was willing to put sidewalks into the plan. 

With that, the council was willing to move forward. Councilman Michael Cote said the proposal fits in with what the town would like to see in that area.

Councilman Rich Baty said, “It’s the right project at the right time.”

After the meeting, Schell said, “I was very happy to have the support of the mayor and town council, and get approved by a unanimous vote. I’m hopeful we will make it work.”

The next step in the process is for the two sides to work out an annexation agreement that would codify the use of the parcel, as well as fees and costs associated with annexing in. During that time, there is a 30-day window when citizens can force the question of annexation to a referendum vote. According to the town charter, citizens can file a petition with the town manager requesting a referendum; the petition must be signed by 10 percent of eligible voters. Should that happen, a referendum would be held within 45 days after the petition is received.

If a referendum does not happen, once an annexation agreement is worked out, the new land use and zoning can be recorded with the Recorder of Deeds Office, and the parcel would be considered part of the town. 

Schell said from there, his group would begin engineering the project and seeking agency approvals. Thompson said once annexed, the project would go through the town’s normal land-use process, with a site-plan review by Milton Planning and Zoning Commission and final approval by town council. 

“I would expect the total timeline to be nine to 12 months from now in order to obtain final approval,” Schell said.

The second annexation is for BBD LLC, owned by Stephen and Lynn Dexter, who are seeking to develop a 7.68-acre parcel across from the Food Lion shopping center into a commercial entity with office and storage space and a gas station. 

While the council expressed some concern about the entrance to the property and its effect on traffic in an already highly trafficked area, the council was satisfied that the annexation provided more pros than cons. 

The BBD annexation ordinance, similar to the one for Milton Attainable Housing, passed by a 5-1 vote. Councilwoman Randi Meredith was the only no vote because, she said, the town’s comprehensive plan views the future land use of the parcel as residential. Meredith said she had concerns about traffic and added that there are other gas stations in the area. 

Baty said, “I think it's a good project. Yes, I think there are some traffic issues that have to be worked out. I think it's time to move forward with both of these.”

The same annexation agreement and site-plan approval process that will be used for Milton Attainable Housing will also apply to the BBD annexation request.

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