Milton Town Council unanimously voted Sept. 21 to table two requests for annexations until Monday, Oct. 5, in order to allow for additional information to be entered into the record.
The hearing record will be open until Monday, Sept. 28.
The two annexations are both on Route 16. The first is a proposed mixed commercial/residential development from Milton Attainable Housing LLC, a joint project from developer Preston Schell and Rehoboth Beach businessman Eric Sugrue. The proposed project includes four pad sites for commercial businesses fronting Route 16, with 239 housing units in the rear of a 27-acre parcel adjacent to Country Road.
The housing includes multifamily residences spread across 14 buildings housing 12 to 24 units each. The complex also includes a park, a swimming pool, a fountain, a children’s playground and a dog park for both small and large dogs. Parking would be located throughout the complex with entrances on Route 16 and on Bay Road to the rear.
A portion of the property fronting Route 16 is already in Milton zoned C-1 commercial, with the rest within Sussex County zoned AR-1 agricultural-residential. If it were to be annexed, Milton Attainable Housing is asking that five acres of the parcel remain commercial with the rest zoned R-3 residential, which allows for multifamily housing. In addition to annexation and rezoning, Milton’s comprehensive plan would have to be amended to reflect the new use. A site plan would later be reviewed by the Milton Planning and Zoning Commission before construction could begin.
The annexation plan was reviewed by the special review committee and planning and zoning, which concurred that the proposal had more pros than cons and encouraged council to allow the annexation to move forward.
Among the issues raised by town council and citizens during a Sept. 21 presentation by Schell and engineer Zac Crouch were a lack of sidewalks in the development, lighting, irrigation, school bus access and increased traffic on Bay Avenue.
Rick Sutton, who works for Delaware Department of Transportation and lives in Milton, said traffic on Bay Road and Country Road is already heavy, even without Milton Little League being in season – the baseball fields are at the end of Country Road. He said Route 16 is one of the most heavily trafficked roads in Sussex County, and even more strain would be put on it when adding traffic from the development trying to come in from Country Road and Union Street.
“I don’t see how it's feasible,” Sutton said.
The second annexation request was brought by Stephen and Lynn Dexter, owners of a 7-plus-acre parcel at the corner of Union Street Extended and Route 16. The Dexters, operating under BBD LLC, are seeking to build a commercial complex with storage and office space, and a gas station on the parcel, which is adjacent to the Food Lion shopping center.
The main concern, raised by Mayor Ted Kanakos, was the effect of the development on traffic on Route 16 and Union Street Extended. The current proposal only shows one entrance to the parcel; Kanakos said he would like to see a second entrance on Mulberry Street Extended to help ease traffic concerns.
“It’s commercial. It’s heavily industrial. There should be another entrance,” Kanakos said.
Kanakos asked why they decided to annex into town instead of just building everything while zoned in the county without the trouble of annexation. While the Dexters and their representatives did not necessarily answer that question, Kanakos said development of that parcel was going to come one way or another.
For both annexations, Councilman Sam Garde moved to leave the record open until Sept. 28 in order to allow for more public comment and to allow the applicants to address those comments prior to a vote Oct. 5.