Milton planners to advise approval of Scarlet Oaks annexation

Commission finds zoning of 163-unit development is appropriate
September 2, 2023

The annexation of 50 acres of land on Harbeson Road is one step closer to happening, as Milton’s Planning and Zoning Commission plans to approve an advisory report recommending the action. The site is eyed for a 163-unit housing development known as Scarlet Oaks.

Once that report is received by town council, annexation can be formally approved. After the land is annexed, the next step is to send the application back to planning and zoning to begin the preliminary site-plan review process, which is the public’s main opportunity to weigh in.

Land owner The Company Store LLC and developer Ribera Development have proposed Scarlet Oaks to mostly comprise single-family homes with a zoning classification of R-1 residential with a large-parcel development district overlay.

At planning and zoning’s Aug. 15 meeting, Mark Davidson of Pennoni Associates said the LPD overlay will allow for diversity in how the development is built. In Milton code, a large-parcel development allows for varying lot sizes so not all the homes will look the same, and also allows for some commercial opportunities that do not require a commercial zoning designation, although no commercial element has been proposed at Scarlet Oaks.

Davidson said with the LPD overlay, Scarlet Oaks can have attached or detached dwellings, allowing for differing price points and expanded choices for people at different income levels.

One of the big points of contention for town officials during the annexation review for Scarlet Oaks is the lack of connection between the development and the rest of Milton. Davidson said there is work being done to ensure those connections, particularly a connection from the development to Mariner Middle School across Harbeson Road. He said a lot of those issues will be addressed through the Delaware Department of Transportation’s traffic impact study, which is underway. 

The annexation of the Scarlet Oaks property was originally recommended by the town’s special review committee in June 2022. The committee’s recommendation was 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 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 was close to being approved by town council until litigation came to light between the property owners. With most of the legal issues resolved, the annexation request can again proceed. 


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