The annexation of approximately 44 acres of land — an extension of the Evans Farm development — from Berlin Township into the city of Delaware continues to creep forward as both sides work to overcome a persisting obstacle.
During Monday’s meeting of Delaware City Council, representatives of the Evans Farm development team met with council to discuss a resolution to an issue regarding what New Community Authority (NCA) the Evans Farm development would serve.
Evans Farm has an existing NCA with a millage rate of 10 that encompasses the entirety of the development, including the land that has been proposed to be annexed into Delaware. However, that land also sits within the city’s Delaware South NCA, which has a rate of 7.5 mills.
“It has always been contemplated that, if that land is annexed into the city, that land, like all the land around it, would be required to pay the 7.5 mills that help service the debt that we issued to pay for Glenn Parkway,” City Manager Tom Homan told council in a November meeting. “So, there’s a conflict, and we’re trying to resolve it.”
On Monday, Homan said the annexation is “otherwise, fairly straightforward” but for the issues with the NCA agreements.
Two options have been discussed as potential resolutions for the two sides. First, the developers proposed payments to be made to the city based on the projected revenues generated by the South NCA. The proposal assumed a 2% inflation rate, a home market value of $400,000, and a rate of completion of 10 homes in 2021 and 25 homes annually in 2022 through 2024. Calculated at 7 mills, the total proposed payment by the developers was $194,360.
However, the city’s counter-proposal included changes to the terms of the payment, including keeping the millage rate at its current rate of 7.5. The city’s suggested payment from the Evans Farm group was significantly larger at $403,389.
The developers have since submitted a second option that would see them pay a one-time payment of $250,000 to Delaware in 2023.
Tony Eyerman, co-owner of the Evans Farm Land Development Company, said the proceeds of the 10 mills have already been pledged to the Evans Farm NCA as part of the entire Evans Farm project, per the request of the Evans family. Because of that, he said the burden of a combined 17.5 mills can’t be placed on the eventual homeowners of Evans Farm Delaware.
“The difficulty is 17.5 mills on any single family lot … (The homes) probably wouldn’t even sell, quite honestly,” Eyerman said.
Eyerman called the lump sum payment “a compromise of sorts” in that it would get money into the city’s hands sooner than waiting for the completion of the development, also not relying on projections of when houses would be built to come up with arbitrary figures for what payments would potentially be.
City documents point out the lump sum would also give the city more certainty in receiving funds should the construction of Evans Farm slow or stop for any reason.
“We’re excited to be part of the city, and we’re looking forward to working with everybody,” Eyerman said. “I think, to this point, it’s been a little bit slow, but it’s not been because of any type of opposition.” He went on to say, “I think we’re moving forward in the right direction. The devil’s in the details, but I think we’re pretty close (to a resolution).”
Eyerman said the plans for the development, which will be submitted to the Delaware Planning Commission as the next step, are ready to go pending the resolution of the NCA dispute. He said the homes that will be proposed in Delaware will be to the exact same standards as the ones that have already been built in Orange Township.
Monday’s discussions were simply to consider the proposal made by the developers, and no vote was made on the proposal. That discussion will likely continue at the next council meeting, which will take place on Monday, Feb. 10.