The Millsboro Town Council opened the doors for new businesses, new developers and new potential with a unanimous vote in February to cut the building fund portion of the Town’s building permit rate by more than 80 percent.
Less than four months later, the hay may not be in the barn just yet on the council’s quest to make the town a more attractive option for new and budding businesses, but the cows have officially started on their way home, with Lewes Dairy announcing its relocation to Millsboro, on a parcel near Millsboro Lanes.
Not only will the long-time Sussex County icon bring new jobs, along with their new dairy distribution facility and ice cream parlor, but according to Town Manager Sheldon Hudson, the move signifies the beginning of the Town’s plan for growth.
“Lewes Dairy is a really nice addition to the town that the council is incredibly excited about and worked hard to accommodate,” said Hudson. The council has “been on a mission to help provide new jobs and to make Millsboro a retail and employment center for central Delmarva, and you can see that starting to happen already.”
At the regularly scheduled town council meeting held on Monday, June 5, the council also passed a budget for the 2018 fiscal year that reduced the capitation tax to $0, and they decided that per-annexation fees would no longer be applicable in cases involving property formerly designated by the State of Delaware as wetlands, which Hudson said would benefit town residents and further accelerate economic growth.
Other big-name businesses signing on to set up shop along Route 113 in Millsboro in the near future include Royal Farms, Chick-fil-a, Farmer’s Bank, Mid-Atlantic Animal Hospital and Preston Motors — all falling directly in line with the council’s vision of targeted business partners.
While more restaurants, grocery stores, hotels and hospitals are also on the council’s wish-list, they’re already planning ahead, with efforts to revitalize the downtown area to be able to accommodate a growing population.
The approved budget for 2018 also included funds allocated for a new police station, as well as new sidewalks and other possible improvements geared to public safety along Main Street and State Street — all designed to move Millsboro toward the future while at the same time preserving its history.
“A lot of the older buildings downtown are brick, so I know Council would like to get that theme going,” said Hudson of the projects set to get under way by the summer of 2018. “That’s part of the reason for the brick — there’s history in it. It’s not only to give downtown a nice aesthetic feel, but it’s a tribute to the town’s roots as well.”
“We’re also looking for a building that fits well into our community and where people feel welcome,” added Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway of the plans for the new police station. “The hopes are basically for us to become a more state-of-the-art police department for our community here.”
Calloway has long been an advocate of keeping his patrol of now 15 officers ahead of the curve, staying involved in voluntary programs, such as international accrediting organization CALEA. He said he believes that staying involved and proactive as a department is key in being able to serve and protect.
In the same vein, Millsboro is already looking ahead to the possibility of also revitalizing the art league building and train station in the 2019 fiscal year — taking a proactive approach to the future, rather than having to instead “play defense” as the population continues to boom as expected.
“Ever since the impact fees were lowered, we’ve gotten a lot of calls from developers. The council wants to respect the past, but they also know that growth is coming and they want to be proactive about it,” he explained. “There’s a lot of unity on the council, which makes my job a lot easier.
“We all want a well-rounded demographic. You have to actively seek that out as a town. You can’t just wait for it to come to you. I think, over the next few years, we’re going to see a lot of investment in the downtown area and keep up with the growth that’s happening — it’s definitely an exciting time for Millsboro.”