Evans Farm -- an expansive development based on the tenets of New Urbanism, which emphasizes walkability and smaller lots -- won't become part of the city of Delaware anytime soon.
Delaware City Council on March 9 failed to approve the annexation of 43.84 acres of the development from Berlin Township.
An ordinance authorizing the annexation received three "yes" votes, three "no" votes and one recused vote. City attorney Darren Shulman said four "yes" votes were required for passage.
That land is a fraction of the 1,250 acres the mixed-use development covers north of Lewis Center Road in Orange and Berlin townships.
Evans Farm Delaware LLC petitioned for annexation of the land because it's north of Peachblow Road, which is inside the city's utility district. City officials earlier said the city's utility district means Berlin Township can't provide service north of Peachblow Road. They also have noted the city routinely requires annexation as a condition of providing city utilities.
City Council first discussed the proposed annexation in November, focusing largely on the fact the Evans Farm development in Orange and Berlin townships has a New Community Authority that levies a 10-mill assessment on residences built there. The developers proposed extending that NCA to the annexed land, but the city already has an NCA in the area of the city.
City Manager Tom Homan noted earlier that other properties within the city's southeastern area are in the Delaware South New Community Authority, and it always was thought that land annexed there would be required to pay the 7.5 mills the city NCA levies to pay for Glenn Parkway.
Evans Farm partner Tony Eyerman on Jan. 27 told council the company is committed to extending its NCA onto what would be the annexed property.
"Rather than pass the full 17.5-mills burden onto the future homeowner, the city and the applicant are working to find a solution beneficial to all parties and equitable to those already in the South NCA," Homan wrote in a memo attached to the Jan. 27 agenda.
On March 9, Homan said he would recommend that council approve the annexation.
While the NCA issue complicates the annexation somewhat, he said annexing the land would conform to the city's comprehensive plan, which is "driven in part by the utility service boundary areas."
Providing utilities to the land without annexation "is really contrary to our code of ordinances," he said, and would be an anomaly.
"We have, I think, worked out an arrangement with developer that's fair," Homan said.
The meeting's agenda included a memo from Homan that noted as of Feb. 24, "instead of the annexed property being placed in the (city) NCA, the developer would make a one-time payment of $250,000 on or before Dec. 1, 2023."
Council member Lisa Keller said the Evans Farm annexation would violate guidelines for NCAs that council approved in October 2019.
The guidelines, she said, don't allow a developer-initiated NCA unless it's for city infrastructure, which the Evans Farm NCA isn't. The Evans NCA also fails to meet the minimum requirement of a 100-acre annexation for a developer NCA, she said.
If the city doesn't follow the guidelines, she said, other developers may want to negotiate exceptions, she said.
Shulman said the "weird circumstances" of the Evans Farm NCA make the annexation "distinguishable ... from pretty much any other NCA we're going to get."
Other topics of the discussion included how quickly the city's NCA might be retired after it fulfills its role of raising funds to pay the Glenn Parkway debt, and estimates on how much city income-tax revenue would result if the land is annexed and all planned homes are built.
Voting against the annexation were Keller, George Hellinger and Drew Farrell. Voting for the annexation were Kent Shafer, Chris Jones and Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle. Cory Hoffman recused himself without elaborating, though after the meeting, he said it was because his employer had performed accounting services for the Evans Farm developers.
Shulman said the city requires only that a developer petition for annexation to qualify for city-provided utilities, and the meeting's vote would allow the developers to petition again for annexation.