By a 4-2 vote, Milton Town Council accepted a report from its special review committee recommending the annexation of 50 acres on Harbeson Road across from Mariner Middle School slated to be developed as a 163-unit community known as Scarlet Oaks.
With the report accepted, the proposed development will now move to the planning and zoning commission to review the proposed zoning of the parcel to R-1 residential.
Scarlet Oaks first came before the special review committee in late 2021, with the review lasting into 2022. The committee agreed to forward the annexation to the town council after determining the parcel would provide increased revenues through taxes and fees, add services that would sustain public works and give the town control over future development. The committee also noted the annexation is within the town’s future growth area, and it can be served by existing water, fire, wastewater and police services.
The only disadvantages noted by the committee are that the proposal has no connecting bicycle or pedestrian paths to the town center and no provision for affordable housing within the proposed design.
The annexation effort was put on hold in June 2022, when a dispute between the property owners played out in Delaware Court of Chancery. The suit was filed by Karla Draper against her sister, Shauna Thompson, and The Company Store LLC, the company that has been listed on town documents as the owner of the property. The Company Store LLC is owned by cousins of Thompson and Draper. In November, Judge Nathan Cook heard arguments in the case and made a partial ruling, granting part of Thompson’s motion to dismiss and denying other parts. The most important part of the ruling is that Cook allowed Thompson and The Company Store to move forward with the sale of the property.
For the sake of Milton council, the ruling allowed the annexation process to pick up again, with the main order of business at council’s Aug. 7 meeting to accept the advisory report.
Councilwoman Randi Meredith was one of the two no votes against accepting the report, along with Councilman Scotty Edler. Meredith said the development has no plans for affordable housing.
“When we add more housing like this, we are going to experience a demand for more local services and thereby a demand for more service-industry employees, and where are they going to live? If they don’t live here, where are they going to park?” she said.
Meredith added that the plans do not have a safe biking and pedestrian connection, which would increase the amount of cars coming into town, and the parcel is seemingly on its own island separate from the town.