Northwood to get sixth reading


Discussions on the Northwood mixed-use residential development resumed during Monday’s meeting of the Delaware City Council, although no vote was taken on the three ordinances as the developers and city continue to consider feedback from nearby residents.

The ordinances, which will now head to a sixth reading at the next council meeting on April 22, include a preliminary development plan as well as a rezoning amendment request by Metro Development for the construction of a mixed-residential development including up to 1,168 dwelling units spread across three subareas on the approximately 231-acre site located on the northwest corner of the state Route 521 and Byxbe Parkway roundabout.

Subarea A would contain up to 360 apartment units on approximately 22.88 acres, while Subarea B would contain up to 357 single-family dwelling units on approximately 124.28 acres. Subarea C would contain up to 451 multi-family dwelling units on 83.38 acres.

The land is currently zoned A-1 (Agricultural District), and a conditional use permit is being proposed to place a planned mixed-use overlay district on the property as part of the rezoning to A-1 PMU (Agricultural District with a Planned Mixed Use Overlay District).

Metro would also extend Byxbe Parkway in two segments north from its current terminus at the existing roundabout to service subareas B and C.

During the fourth reading of the ordinances on March 11, which included a continuation of the public hearing for the proposal, residents of the immediate area surrounding the site continued to voice their displeasure with the plans and the city’s considerations. Among the issues discussed were the additional screening between the multi-family units and the Kensington Place neighborhood, the phasing of the development, and the traffic impact study that will still need to be completed before any final development plans are approved.

In response to those concerns, Metro has extended the 10-foot mound to cover the entirety of Subarea A. In a memorandum from Director of Public Works Bill Ferrigno and Planning and Community Development Director Sandra Pereira to the council, it was stated that “with over 180 feet of distance between any Kensington property line and the closest multi-family building (270 feet to the closest single-family home), the transition guideline is achieved.”

The memorandum added, “All proposed single-family lots are sized appropriately to be consistent with adjacent existing lots. Subarea A will more than likely be one single lot with a substantial enough distance from existing residential to not be considered adjacent. The spirit and intent of the guideline is being met.”

One possibility floated by Councilman Kevin Rider was flipping the site layout to move the apartment units to Subarea C on the northern portion of the site. Such a move would bring the ranch-style condominiums, to be constructed by Wilcox Communities, to Subarea A, which fronts the site.

Rider said switching the locations would create a “pure transition” from the existing single-family homes to the apartment units.

Speaking on that possibility, Metro Development Director of Development Joe Thomas said, “I guess the chronological order of these developments is that the apartments are in Subarea A for one reason and that’s existing sanitary and sewer (lines) in that particular area. The sewer that exists for the Wilcox development (plan) is not existing at this moment.”

Thomas added, “Also, the access for Subarea C is not existing at this moment. Most of Byxbe Parkway north of the existing roundabout has to be built for that access, so the apartments in Subarea A are really the catalyst for the economic engine to create Byxbe Parkway and then additional funding for the infrastructure of developing the actual sewer for that Subarea C.

“And the timing of Wilcox … they’re looking at not necessarily starting their development until roughly late 2026 and having units online in 2027, whereas we’re looking at developing roughly in January 2025 and look to have 264 apartments online in 2026 and completing in 2027.”

Asked about the timeframe for constructing the sewer lines and Byxbe Parkway extension, Thomas estimated it would take upwards of three years to complete those projects.

“I think it would blow up the whole site,” Wilcox managing partner Jonathan Wilcox said of flipping the subareas. “We would start over. We’ve been at this for about a year and this is the first time (this suggestion) has really come up. We’ve worked closely with city planning and the city engineer. It started with the comprehensive plan, and it guided us, so the idea of sort of blowing up our plan and all the preliminary stormwater reports, traffic reports, and preliminary engineering that we’ve done to comply with the code, at this point in the game, would be really tough.”

Wilcox noted that if that was the wish of the city, he would be “all ears.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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