Council Approves Changes to Watergate Development

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By Terry Rogers

Milford City Council approved changes to the Watergate Development upon recommendation of the Planning Commission. The original plan was approved for Lyndalia Land Company in November 2006 with 303 total units that would include a mixture of single-family detached, semi-detached, townhouses and multi-family work units as well as live-work units and a community facility. The property was sold to Liborio Watergate LLC in 2012.

“In 2015, Liborio granted permission for the City to construct a new sanitary sewer force main through some of the lots in the development,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, explained. “This was part of the Shawnee Acres Pump Station project. To complete this, the owner relocated several units to other areas of the development and rerecorded the plan.” Upon reviewing the land in 2015, it was discovered that the City owned a parcel adjacent to the development and contacted the development owner to see if there was interest in purchasing the parcel.

After the sale of the land, the developer redesigned the development in order to incorporate the parcel. However, the land sold needed to be rezoned and the new plan approved by the Planning Commission and City Council. The live-work buildings were eliminated and the apartment buildings moved to a different location in the development. A public hearing was held before the Planning Commission with a unanimous vote in favor of the changes following.

“There were some stipulations made by the Planning Commission,” Mr. Pierce explained. “Milford Rent-All requested that the apartment buildings plan be positioned in a way that his business is not blocked from view from Marshall Street. There was some concern about one-way streets within the development which the owner has agreed to widen and make two-way roads. There is also legal action pending in Chancery Court between the owner and neighbor with the City also being named in the litigation. That must be resolved before final approval is granted.” Councilman Christopher Mergner asked if there was any way to require a buffer between Marshall Street and the apartments, such as fencing or landscaping.

Lee Ramuno of Liborio Watergate LLC said that the company had no issue with placing something between Marshall Street and the apartments, but he would prefer a fence rather than landscaping. He said that the entire change was designed to accommodate the needs of the City and to make the project better. The dissenting comments were from one neighboring businessman, Councilman Dirk Gleysteen whose business borders the property, and the owner of that property.

“We operate a noisy business,” Mr. Gleysteen said. “We are often acquiring equipment, there is no air conditioning, so in the summer, the doors are open. This is an industrial neighborhood and I am afraid that approving residential housing in this area will open up the City to many noise complaints.”

John Pardee, the attorney for Joe Wylie who had filed the litigation against the development, said that there was currently a settlement in place for the legal action. The settlement had been signed by the City and by Mr. Wylie, but Liborio was unable to agree until the current plan was approved by Council as part of the settlement involved the new plan. If council approved the plan, the settlement could be signed and the development could move forward.

Council approved the request unanimously.

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