Considerations for the Addison Farms proposal continued Wednesday as the Delaware Planning Commission resumed discussions from its Nov. 3 meeting. Following a nearly three-hour meeting, the commission voted to move the project forward to the next step with the recommendation to Delaware City Council to approve a rezoning amendment to include a Planned Mixed-Use Overlay District to the 273 acres, as well as an overall preliminary development plan for the site.
The approximately 273-acre mixed-use development is being proposed by Addison Properties for the city’s east side, northeast of Smith Park between U.S. Route 23 and Troy Road.
As discussions between the developers, city, and residents continue, the proposal has undergone various alterations to better address concerns that have been stated over the past five months. According to the city’s latest staff report on the proposal, 238 acres of the four total parcels would be developed land, with approximately 31 acres serving as right-0f-way and open space.
“This is, from certain perspectives, the largest and, in many ways, most complex mixed-use development to date in the community,” Planning and Community Development Director Dave Efland said during the meeting.
In the proposal, the parcels are separated into eight subareas, lettered A-H, with four of the subareas (B-E) having different types of residential layouts proposed. The remaining subareas, which encompass 85.5 acres, do not yet have set uses or preliminary designs.
Since the preliminary concept review in July, residents of the northwest portion of the city have expressed a multitude of issues with the proposed development. During the Nov. 3 meeting, Commission Chairman Stacy Simpson said he hasn’t seen anything like the efforts by the residents to fight for changes to the proposal.
Among the many issues residents have taken with the proposal are tree preservation and total open space. Under the current proposal, 69 acres or approximately 25% of the entire site would be made up of parkland or open space.
Efland said during Wednesday’s meeting that the city’s goal is to maintain the preservation 0f 50% of the trees across the parcels. The development text now proposes for the developers to additionally pay $500 per single-family dwelling unit and $200 per non-single family dwelling unit into the city’s tree fund. The text also proposes to plan two additional trees per dwelling unit.
Speaking on issues of land use that have been questioned by residents, Efland said only one gas station would be permitted on the entirety of the site. If included, a gas station would only be permitted in Subarea F if it is an accessory to a primary use, or in Subarea G if it is a standalone station.
Efland said much of the work between the city and the development team has been to align the development text with the proposed plans. He added that each subarea would require a preliminary development plan as well as a final development plan, noting that the two cannot be combined into one submission. Efland said such a requirement “is a little different from standard development” but allows the city to “look at things in proper sequence.”
“That adds a considerable amount of process,” he said. “Not all of the subareas have a preliminary layout yet, some of them do, and it’s complex. There are a lot of moving parts, so we think this process will allow the applicant to develop the information necessary for the city to evaluate, and, ultimately, for City Council to make those decisions through that process.”
An overall final infrastructure plan will also need to be submitted “to establish the backbone infrastructure,” Efland added.
Addison Properties President Jason Friedman said during the meeting, “I’ve told you many times that when I choose to work in communities, some of the reasons are based on who I have to work with. And although we may not always agree with staff, one of the benefits of an involved staff such as the City of Delaware is that they have given this a lot of attention, more than I am used to.
“That really allows us to develop a plan that we uphold. And when I say we, I mean that everyone can see what we are going to be building. This early in the process, to have such a detailed plan, with a text that is comprehensive and thorough in details about what we are going to be building, in my career I have never seen us this far along.”
Friedman said the current requests serve as a “base framework for what this development might be,” understanding there is considerable more work to be done regarding the specifics of each subarea.
“But what we have today is a very strong base,” Friedman added. “Although some of the changes in the beginning were surprising to us, we feel that we have a good base to move forward, and that’s what we’re asking for tonight. That is this commission’s consideration to allow us to move forward to the next step, to start the process of infrastructure planning, which is intense, to further develop each subarea and come back to this commission and present what our vision is.”
Wednesday’s meeting included yet another public hearing that allowed residents who would be impacted by the seemingly endless details of the proposal to further voice their concerns. Following the public hearing portion of the meeting, Simpson said he doesn’t believe there is a member of the public in attendance who wouldn’t say there has been at least some positive changes to the proposal since the initial concept review in July.
Simpson added that much of that change has been a result of not only the extensive work city staff has put into the project but also the work of the public to weigh in with their thoughts on the project.
“I know a lot of times there can be a lot of discontent with government, that nobody listens to what they have to say. I want to tell you tonight that, while I can’t speak for my fellow commissioners but I think that I do, we have heard you all loud and clear. We have a very difficult job of balancing your needs as property owners with the applicant’s needs as property owners, and I don’t think that we take the duty that we have very lightly. I can tell you that during my time on Planning Commission, which is somewhere around 11 years, that this has been the most challenging case.”
With the approved recommendation by the Planning Commission, the requests will now go before City Council during its next meeting. Council’s second meeting of December has been canceled, meaning the requests will receive their first readings during the first scheduled council meeting in January.