Milford City Council has approved a request from CCM-Koelig, the developers of the proposed Wickersham development for the corner of Johnson Road and the Coastal Highway, to eliminate the back alleys included in the original plan and for a sidewalk exemption to entry of development. The garden apartment and townhouse development project was approved by council in 2013 to include 205 townhouses. The new plan would reduce the number of units to 203.
“The current code requires sidewalks on both sides of the street in all developments,” said Rob Pierce, town planner. “The plaintiff wants to eliminate the sidewalk on the east side of Wickersham Lane, located between Johnson Road and the neighborhood’s first intersection. This request is based on the fact that there will be a shared use trail that is ten feet from the west side of this street. This shared-use lane should be wide enough to transport pedestrians and cyclists safely through the neighborhood.
Additionally, the developer requested a waiver of a code requirement that required them to plant trees on either side of the road, every 150 feet. There are areas in the development that will not allow the trees to be so close together. Instead, the developer intended to plant shade trees roughly every 180 feet.
“Originally, the project was designed with lanes behind the townhouses to allow for rear-loading garages,” said Cliff Mumford, civil engineer at Davis, Bowen & Friedel. “This will require more impermeable surfaces, as the backyards of the lots would be walkways. It would also require additional asphalt for the city to maintain once it takes over road maintenance. There were many discussions with the city who recommended that the lanes be removed and the development lightly configured. Originally, it was believed that residents could place garbage cans in the back of the property, but as the city’s garbage trucks have changed, this is no longer a viable option. City Manager Mark Whitfield said that with the city’s new automatic garbage trucks, it would be difficult for them to access trash cans in a narrow lane and placing them on the sidewalk in front of townhouses was more appropriate.
Mumford also explained that the development would include a shared cycle path that was part of the Southeast Master Plan and that the city would be given a permanent easement for this track. He said the developer also wanted the City to accept the perpetual maintenance of the bike path and accept all responsibility for the track. The developer only agreed to build the path, which Mumford says is common for bike paths installed throughout the county, including the Breakwater and Junction Road in Lewes.
“As far as the trees are concerned, the townhouse block is around 160 feet long and in order to provide a driveway that can accommodate two cars side by side, you need a minimum of 18 feet,” Mumford said. “We also need to install electricity and water in the four foot grass strip between the units while the sewer cleaning will be done in the driveway. It doesn’t really leave room for trees in that 160 foot area. Our thought is that we will go about 180 feet, which is 10 feet on either side of the aisle. Anywhere we couldn’t plant trees, we would catch up in another area of development in order to plant the same number of trees by the time we’re done.
Mumford also said affordable housing was needed in Milford, pointing out that Winward on the River was close to full rental and Brookstone Trace was sold out. This development would provide housing for those working in the beach area as it would have easy access to and from Route 1.
“I’m not crazy that the city needs to maintain the bike path,” Nina Pletcher said during the public comment portion of the presentation. “I think they have their hands full with snow removal as is. The cycle paths will be used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. I see this is a problem for the maintenance guys who will receive calls about bike paths that are not yet cleared of snow. “
The Council approved all three requests unanimously.