Milton council set to discuss Granary special district designation

September 8, 2023

Milton Town Council will debate and possibly decide whether to formally create a special development district for the proposed Granary at Draper Farms community at council’s regular meeting at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Sept. 11, at Milton library.

Creation of the district would take place through two measures: First, council would pass a resolution providing for the introduction of an ordinance to create the district. Second, council would debate the ordinance itself, which would lay out parameters of how the district would work.

The resolution would allow for the introduction of an ordinance to set a special tax levy that would be paid by Granary residents, and the proceeds from that tax would be put into a special fund that would be used to fund public infrastructure improvements within and potentially outside of the Granary. The special tax does not preclude developer Convergence Communities from paying town-required performance bonds, which sets aside money to ensure roads and other infrastructure are completed before turning over maintenance of that infrastructure to the town. 

According to the resolution, one of the benefits of the special fund is that it will “serve the public purposes of providing public improvements within the town, directly and indirectly enhancing the taxable base of the town, encouraging the development of commerce and industry within the town and increasing employment within the town through the installation of utilities and other necessary improvements.”

The Granary at Draper Farms is proposed as a 1,350-unit development on a 450-acre parcel on Sand Hill Road. The buildout is scheduled to take place over 20 years in 10 sections, with the first section already having received preliminary site-plan approval from the planning and zoning commission. The development would be mainly residential, as it is zoned R-2 with a large-parcel development overlay, but some small commercial development, namely a small-batch brewery, is planned. 

Where the rubber will meet the road is in the ordinance. The town would agree to issue special obligation bonds – bonds that Convergence officials have said are backed by Granary residents, not the town of Milton – up to $42 million. The developer would then use that money to pay for infrastructure projects benefiting the public, which could include streets, sidewalks, and parks and recreation facilities. Convergence has pledged to make up to 55 acres of the parcel into public open space, create a biking and walking trail that would connect to the town’s Rails to Trails, and install an amphitheater for public use within the development. 

Convergence has also agreed to pay the town $5 million raised by the special development district to do other infrastructure projects. However, that money comes with strings attached: First, only projects built inside the Granary that benefit its residents would be covered 100%. Projects outside the Granary or located in the Granary but benefiting people outside the development would be covered 33%, with the town needing to cover the remaining costs. The town would also get the money in three tranches, with the first expected to come sometime in 2024, when the project is expected to break ground. Two remaining tranches would be released in 2030 and 2035. The town would have three years to spend the money, or else it would revert back to Convergence. 

Should council approve the ordinance, the special tax would be imposed, levied and collected starting with the 2024-25 taxable year. The special tax funds would be administered by a third party selected by the town. The special taxes would be collected at the same time as town property taxes. Residents would have the option to prepay the special tax. According to the ordinance, the bonds would be sold at a negotiated, limited public offering.

Budget set for approval

The Granary special development district is part of a busy agenda for Milton council.

The agenda includes a possible vote on the fiscal year 2024 budget and fee schedule, discussion of a recommendation from the parks and recreation committee on a memorial brick program and a resolution to set a public hearing on an amendment to the town’s future land-use map.

In new business, council will discuss a request by SipUrban Farmhouse to place two tables and four chairs on the sidewalk in front of the business, hear a request by John and Constance Bushey to vacate a lot line between two nonconforming parcels at 410 and 412 Behringer Ave. and create one conforming parcel, and discuss resolutions to seek a grant for replacement park benches and a “Water on Roadway” sign on Cave Neck Road and Front Street. 

Finally, Mayor John Collier will appoint a new council member to fill the remaining two years on former Councilwoman Annette Babich’s term, with council voting on whether to approve that new member.


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