The city of Milford is taking steps to plan for future expansion and grow its already stable manufacturing industry.

The city of Milford is taking steps to plan for future expansion and grow its already stable manufacturing industry.

In April Milford City Manager Richard Carmean tasked the city’s planner and director of economic development with identifying potential sites for growth in Milford and coming up with a strategy for infrastructure investment.

City Planner Gary Norris and Director of Economic Development Steve Masten presented their findings to Milford City Council in a workshop on Monday.

Their presentation identified eight undeveloped properties that the city could rezone and equip with infrastructure, in hopes of attracting manufacturers to the area.

“This is a pivotal point in terms of economic development,” said Masten. “With this investment that the city would be making in property we could show businesses, like a distribution facility, a piece of property where they could operate 24/7, that is zoned and has and will have water, sewer and electric coming right to the property.”

Seven out of the eight properties are already within the corporate limits of Milford, but the Hall property, a site near the southeast side of town, would have to be annexed in order to be developed.

Three properties – the Fry farm, the Amberwood property and the Draper property − are on the northwest side of town.

Potential sites in the south side of town include the Simpson property and Milford Ponds. The southeast side of town includes Innovation Park and the Mills Farm, as well as the Hall property.

Masten explained that the information he and Norris gathered was just the first step.

Norris and Masten listed the Amberwood property, Innovation Park and the Mills farm as the properties that would be top priority for rezoning and infrastructure investment.

“The next step is taking this back to city council and making a recommendation of how to go forward [and] what properties to look at,” Masten said. “We have to look at engineering cost, proximity to major roadways, and we have to make sure this is a part of the city that we want to grow.”

If the city chooses to develop these properties, all would have to be rezoned to allow for light industrial use, except for Innovation Park, which is zoned for institutional use. Seven out of the eight properties need either water or sewer connections or all utilities.

Delaware’s State Planning Director Constance Holland explained why having land properly zoned, with infrastructure in place ahead of the curve, is important.

“When Amazon came to Middletown it was either going to be Smyrna or Middletown,” Holland said. “Middletown had pre-planned just like Milford’s doing, and Amazon went to that parcel. Smyrna didn’t have the sewer.”

Milford resident David Burton told the council he supports the city in its plan for expansion.

“I think a lot of the planning done some years ago is now reaching the end of its time,” Burton said. “You need some new places to go. What you’re talking about is Milford’s future, and there is a risk and there is money involved and not all of it will be easy, but it’s necessary.”