Towns making more steps toward the future now

Part of the charm of covering Millville and Ocean View over the years has been the small-town feel at meetings. Residents and town officials often referred to each other by first names, and many approvals for residents were handled with a two-minute conversation and a metaphorical handshake.

Of course, both towns have grown quite a bit over the years. Town officials have had to deal with new issues regarding development, public services and just the simple reality that more people often equals more work for the towns.

In order to maintain some semblance of control over the sprawling towns, and to meet the needs of the changing demographics of the residents, officials have had to be more vigilant in regards to writing and updating codes, as well as making sure there is a distinct process for residents and businesses to undertake when applying for various approvals.

Now, these changes haven’t always gone smoothly over the years. Longtime residents have often voiced frustration over the bureacracy at the town level, as well as the changes to the towns’ atmospheres regarding new buildings, developments and rules. New residents have moved to the towns and complained that they aren’t as advanced as the cities and towns they came from originally. Officials in both towns have often found themselves scrambling to reach decisions for issues they have never faced before the changes.

But now it appears both towns are fully getting their ordinances put together, and being proactive on issues, as opposed to reacting when new things come before them.

For instance, Millville planning officials discussed the signage ordinance this week in their meeting. Eric Evans, building and code eforcement officer for the town, was asked to write down the problems with the town’s current sign ordinance so officials could put their arms around the situation.

Amongst other problems, Evans mentioned that movie theaters are currently permitted in the town, but signs for them are not allowed. Evans said he would like to see these things tackled before they become problems, and that design standards should match the zoning book.

In Ocean View, officials are discussing the town’s sidewalk plans. They are taking into consideration a changing demographic that doesn’t hold on to the past as dearly as longtime residents, as well as possible benefits for the town with drainage issues and making it safer for pedestrians.

It’s nice to see both towns looking into the future now.