Milton planners postpone Royal Farms decision

More detail needed on traffic design
September 24, 2021

Milton Planning and Zoning Commission is holding off on a decision to grant a special permitted use and preliminary site-plan approval for a proposed Royal Farms on Route 16 until further information on traffic impacts is received.

The Royal Farms is proposed on a 2-acre parcel at the corner of Route 16 and Union Street Extended. The complex would consist of a gas station and convenience store with 46 parking spaces. The parcel, which includes an additional 5 acres proposed to be developed for an office park in the future, is zoned C-1 commercial and was annexed into Milton in December. 

In the town’s zoning code, a gas station and convenience store is a special permitted use in a C-1 district, meaning it is allowed, but with approval from planning and zoning to ensure that the proposed use is keeping with the health, safety and welfare of the community.

The top issue for the commission’s Sept. 21 meeting was the impact the store will have on traffic, along with possible improvements at the intersection of Route 16 and Union Street Extended. While the roadways are owned and managed by the Delaware Department of Transportation, what happens at that intersection will potentially affect the health, safety and welfare of the community. 

Commissioner George Cardwell said, “We don’t have any information on the traffic impacts of the intersection of 16 and 5. What the existing condition is and what the built condition would be with this project, and what proposed improvements will do with the level of service. We don’t have the traffic study.”

James Taylor, project engineer with Duffield Associates, said the traffic study is being reviewed by DelDOT. He said study approval was delayed because DelDOT wanted to see the entire parcel in Royal Farms’ plans. While the two parcels on the lot are owned by separate entities, they will share a common entrance. 

Without the traffic study, Town Solicitor Seth Thompson recommended the commission hold the record open to receive the traffic study when it becomes available. Taylor said he did not think the study would be done until November or December. 

With no decision on the horizon at the Sept. 21 meeting, the commission used its time to take public input and ask questions of Taylor. 

Some questions concerned the entrance and exit for the property. Plans show the Royal Farms having entrances off Cedar Creek Road and Route 16, with rights out and lefts in on Cedar Creek Road, and full access on Route 16. Taylor said the pattern on Cedar Creek Road was favored by DelDOT. The commission was concerned about the ability to make lefts out of the complex onto Cedar Creek Road, which, commissioners reiterated, could not be definitively known without the traffic study.

The commission also wanted more detail from Royal Farms on its lighting plans, signs, crosswalk locations and landscaping.

Jeff Siemens, 412 Chestnut St., said, “This will change this part of Milton forever. My concern is this intersection is close to needing four left-hand turn lanes. This plan shows two. What right of way can they provide for now for a left-hand turn lane heading south on Route 16? At some point, all of these roads will require left-hand turn lanes for this to operate at a reasonable level of service.”

Citizens also had questions on the property landscaping, parking and electric vehicle charging stations.

Taylor said the complex is only required to have 26 spaces, but Royal Farms is proposing 46. He said Royal Farms reached out to contractors about having electric vehicle stations on site, and they were told there was no interest because demand is not high enough. Taylor said Royal Farms is open to having charging stations at the facility in the future. 

The commission is scheduled to meet again Tuesday, Oct. 19, at Milton library.

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