Delaware City Council held its first discussions on the highly-scrutinized Addison Farms development during Monday’s meeting. The approximately 273-acre mixed-use development, proposed by Addison Properties for the city’s northwest region, has undergone a multitude of changes and evolutions in conjunction with city and resident feedback since it first began to take shape last spring.
Last month, after a total of five meetings to weigh the proposal, the Delaware Planning Commission voted to recommend approval of three ordinances that would allow the Addison Farms project to move forward to the next phase of planning. The ordinances include a rezoning amendment, a conditional use permit to allow for a planned mixed-use overlay district, and the preliminary development plan for the project.
Under the proposal, the parcels making up the 273 acres would be divided into eight subareas lettered A-H. Of the total acreage, 238 acres is proposed to be developed land. Subareas B-E, which encompass approximately 153 acres, have proposed residential layouts, while the remaining four subareas only have potential uses at this time.
Should the Addison Farms project gain approval by council, each subarea would require individual preliminary and final development plans to be vetted by city staff and ultimately approved by council.
Two main spine roads are being proposed by Addison Properties to serve as the primary access points to the development. Merrick Parkway would be extended west from U.S. Route 23 to the railroad tracks on the western end of the site. Heritage Boulevard would be extended from the Hayes Colony subdivision to Hills-Miller Road to serve as the main north and south spine road.
During Monday’s first reading, council member Stephen Tackett made it known to the rest of council that he feels every resident of the Oakhurst community adjacent to the proposed development is vehemently opposed to the stub roads being proposed with the project.
City Director of Public Works Bill Ferrigno replied by saying that the Oakhurst community wouldn’t be the first neighborhood to not want stub street connectors. However, he added that “the reality is that right-of-way is owned by the city, and the planning of road connectivity between neighborhoods is a city responsibility.”
“Just like the road I live on, I don’t own the road or the rights to have that road or not have the road … In public neighborhoods with public services, everybody, including not just the residents in that area but the residents around that area and other services, have rights to use those roads as well,” Ferrigno said.
Addressing the concerns from many area residents that the connector streets will lead to a heavy increase of cut-through traffic, Ferrigno said, “I just am not seeing it from my years of experience here.”
Jason Friedman, president of Addison Properties, lauded the work of both city staff and his team for the extensive work that went into his first presentation of the proposal before council. Friedman then proceeded to highlight the evolution of the site’s proposed development as a result of what he feels has been considerable effort to accommodate the concerns of the neighboring residents.
“We have made tremendous strides, especially for a project of this size,” Friedman told council. “We signed a purchase agreement last March, and our team immediately hit the ground running with the clear goal of designing a site plan that would provide complementary uses, preserve as much green space and trees as possible, while incorporating the mandates under the improved comprehensive plan.
“We started communicating with city staff as early as March, and our design team has worked tirelessly with one goal in mind — to create a comprehensive, well thought out complementary development plan.”
Among the many issues that residents have expressed with the project in its evolution are the matters of tree preservation and the inclusion of sufficient open space.
In his presentation to council, Friedman said that more than 65 acres — or roughly 25% of the entire site — consist of open space that mostly represents land with existing trees. Friedman pointed out that the ratio is “67% more than what the code requires” and significantly more than what exists in the neighborhoods surrounding the property. He added that the goal is to maintain an even balance between keeping existing trees and removing them.
During the public hearing portion of the meeting, a slew of residents who would potentially be affected by the proposal took the opportunity to further voice their concerns about the development. Kensington Drive resident Tony Bonofiglio, while referencing various portions of the city’s comprehensive plan, said the Addison Farms proposal may allow for the city’s goal of extending Merrick Parkway, but it doesn’t “hit the mark” with regard to high-density housing and the preservation of natural resources.
Bonofiglio stated, “On page 112 (of the comprehensive plan), under the objective A.2 … it says, ‘However, in order for higher-density development to integrate within the existing environment, it will be critical that it is located so as not to adversely impact existing single-family-only neighborhoods.’ As city council has witnessed since the first announcement of the Addison Farms development in July of 2021, the concerns of tax-paying residents in Hayes Colony, Shelbourne Forest, Oakdale, and Oakhurst do not believe that the Addison plan is hitting the mark.”
Jim Molina, who also lives on Kensington Drive, echoed Bonofiglio’s comments, saying the current proposal by Addison Properties “does not correlate with the plan (council) adopted.”
“The residents and my family are depending on you, our elected representatives, to follow this comprehensive plan and ensure that the Addison development does not destroy the character of our neighborhood and the values of our homes,” Molina said.
Delaware City Council generally requires three readings of an ordinance prior to a vote being taken, but more than three readings can be held if council decides more deliberation is needed. The third reading of the ordinances will be held at the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 14.
Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.