A zoning change proposed for a site on Delaware's northwest side could help spur a long-discussed roadway extension.

Delaware's Planning Commission earlier this month unanimously voted in favor of new zoning for a 44-acre property between the eastern terminus of Merrick Boulevard and Troy Road. Delaware City Council on Nov. 13 conducted a first reading of legislation regarding the change but did not vote on it.

The site's current R-4 and R-6 zoning would allow for the construction of an apartment complex on the site. According to city records, the property's owner, the Judith D. Hook Revocable Trust, has requested to "down zone" the property to R-3 ahead of the possible development of a subdivision of single-family houses.

Michael Shade, an attorney representing the trust, said the property's owner thinks the change will make the site more attractive for potential developers.

Commission member George Hellinger, who also serves on council, said he hoped development of the land could hasten the extension of Merrick Boulevard. City officials long have seen extending the road east to Troy Road as a way to relieve congestion along a busy stretch of West Central Avenue.

"That extension of Merrick (Boulevard) over to Troy Road is really key to expanding our network of roads there on the west side of town," Hellinger said. "Anything we could do to encourage that development, I'd definitely fully support.

According to city records, the property owner would be responsible for extending the roadway east through the site upon development.

David Efland, the director of planning and community development, said city officials have had discussions about the extension with the owners of the property up for rezoning, as well as the owners of a second plot directly southeast.

"They both are aware the Merrick extension is a priority," he said.

Efland said the concurrent development of the two properties would make the completion of the road extension easier. Shade said his client will have "no problem" working with the city toward the extension of Merrick Boulevard. He said questions about the proposed alignment and other issues need to be resolved among the city and two property owners.

"I think the best way to (move forward) is to get all these players moving together," Shade said.