Council allows propane tank move at MBS

Millville By the Sea is a step closer to matching its original plans, as the Millville Town Council voted Nov. 12 to allow the community to relocate an existing propane tank to a permanent location and start thinking about the future.

When Millville originally approved the community’s master plan, utilities were secluded in a special area. But the original developer had an extra half-lot that could not be easily developed, so the tank was installed there instead, said Ben Cataldi of Pep-Up.

Currently, the community has a 1,000-gallon tank buried underground on the back lot of Huntington Street. It will be moved closer to Substation Road, on a property with the Delaware Electric Cooperative substation and Sussex County sewage pump station.

In future, they can add one or two additional 1,000-gallon tanks, as demand increases. In the distant future, they plan to replace it with one or two 30,000-gallon tanks.

Councilman Harry Kent asked about underutilization of the propane.

Currently, Millville By the Sea has 180 occupied homes. Eventually it could hold 2,500.

In winter, the single tank is filled once monthly.

“We offer all property buyers the option of propane,” said Charles “Chuck” Ellison Jr., with developer Miller & Smith.

“We’d like to see it in every house,” said Cataldi, adding that he believes the real estate market will pick up again soon. “I don’t want to build for today. I want to build for tomorrow.”

The original plan had three sides of Jersey barrier and one side of fencing, but the low traffic barriers provide no security, others pointed out.

“I have no problem putting up a fence,” Ellison said. The plan included a breakaway lock to prevent tampering.

“We’re not talking short-duration,” Kent said. “That could be something I’d feel more comfortable with if I felt [there was] more security.”

When asked why the tank won’t be underground, Ellison said it’s expensive for a temporary feature.

Kent wondered if Town Code has an official definition of “temporary.”

Although the tanks are called temporary, “These three tanks here will last a very, very long time, unless we get a large demand,” Ellison said.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal will not approve 30,000 gallons unless a water tower is built as a safety measure, said Cataldi, although a Harrington community improvised with a 30,000-gallon pond and 10-inch water main instead of a water tower, he noted.

Tidewater Utilities has plans for a water tower, Ellison said, but it’s not “on the front burner right now.”

The MBS representatives said they had approval from the OFSM for the 1,000-gallon tank move.

The plans were approved, 4-0, with Councilwoman Joan Bennett absent.

The council also voted this week to accept Delaware Electric Signal’s bid for a fire monitoring system for town hall. Three bids were received, all less than $15,000.

Councilman Bob Gordon said DES had answered all their questions and provided the most information, often without being asked. The system would be for monitoring, not fire suppression.

“This is a better deal than trying to spend $250,000 sprinkler heads,” Kent said, because Town Hall has no well and would need to install a water tank to have sprinklers but is also very close to the fire hall.

The modular system gets regular maintenance and inspections, and it could easily expand if Town Hall ever got an addition.

The bid was accepted, 3-0-1, as Mayor Gerry Hocker Jr. abstained for a possible appearance of conflict of interest.

The new system could be installed in early 2014, but it depends on the OSFM’s approval.

Also on Nov. 12, Town Manager Debbie Botchie thanked the Indian River High School JROTC for its service to the town, and Linda Kent reported that the town’s Holiday Market will be Saturday, Dec. 7.

A Town Council workshop is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m.