A motion was passed at Monday night's Milford City Council meeting to proceed in developing a plan for Milford's infrastructure development strategy. City Manager Richard Carmean will now begin a dialogue between the state, county and city to decide what should be done regarding infrastructure preparations to offer potential developers and how the city, or a partnership among government entities as well as potential developers, will fund engineering costs and utility development projects.
A few Councilmembers were concerned that investing in infrastructure without already having developers in place may be risky, but all agreed that they need to have financial estimates before making any final decisions.
"A lot of the communities, a lot of the cities, instead of that old way, are meeting that developer half way and building a partnership to help the infrastructure," said Councilwoman Katrina Wilson. "They're telling us the city should adopt this new way and they're saying if we don't adopt it there's a possibility we could lose out on some positive growth."
At a workshop held on June 24, City Planner Gary Norris and Economic Development Director Steve Masten presented information and an outline of an economic development utility extension package, with comparisons to other towns and infrastructure development projects in Kent and Sussex counties. Masten and Norris identified eight parcels to be slated as potential sites for development: Fry Farm, Amberwood property, Draper property, Simpson property, Milford Ponds, Innovation Park, the Mills Farm and the Hall property.
During the June 24 workshop, Masten advised that the city focus on three properties: the Amberwood property, Innovation Park and the Mills Farm, as the highest yield investments. Carmean's impending report will reflect this prioritization and the remaining five parcels will remain as potential sites for infrastructure development in the future.
"With the three that are prioritized, we know that the developers that own the property want to develop," Carmean said.
"If we want to attract businesses economically, other communities the same size we are, and even smaller, are stepping up to the plate and doing that. We're not doing anything right now," said Councilman Allen "Skip" Pikus. "We expect to grow and we want to grow. If we expect to, we've got to make some steps and make some changes."
No time frame was set as to when Carmean's report will be finalized, but City Clerk Teresa Hudson said an update will be included in the agenda for the next planned city council meeting on July 22.
"I think the partnership is the way to go," said Milford resident Joe Palermo. "We all want to see the city grow but it has to be done in a way that the financial burden won't overwhelm the taxpayers."
CITY COUNCIL APPROVES REDNER'S UTILITY AGREEMENT
Page 2 of 2 - City Council voted to abandon Well No. 9, located at the Seabury Avenue Water Treatment Facility, as part of an agreement with Redner's in order to allow the business to install a self-serve gas station.
Use of this property requires conditional use approval from Milford City Council, which approved under the condition that Redner's will pay for half the cost of a replacement well, up to $200,000, according to the utility agreement.
Well No. 9 is currently out of service after it was abandoned about two years ago due to maintenance reasons. The well requires iron treatment, as well as pH balance, magnesium, and may need additional nitrate treatment in the future, in which case it would cost more to repair and maintain than to replace through this agreement, explained Erik Retzlaff of Davis Bowen & Friedel, Inc.
"So is this a good deal, a well for half price?" asked Councilman Douglas Morrow.
Carmean replied positively and the council voted unanimously to the utility agreement with Redner's.