Millville changes subdivision escrow fees, looks at holiday market

There will be no new taxes or fees for home owners this year in Millville, although the Town will have a change in escrow fees for major and minor subdivisions. Those changes came as the town council approved the budget for the coming fiscal year at their March council workshop.

“We checked it, and the $2,500 that we had was not enough for major subdivisions and too much for minor subdivisions,” said Town Manager Debbie Botchie of the escrow fees. They decided that the fees would be changed to $1,000 for a minor subdivision plan review and $10,000 for a major subdivision plan review.

“If a developer comes in with a revision to the site plan, there is the $750 application fee, the $2,500 escrow fee, and they submit plans and send them to the engineer, and what happens is the back-and-forth game: We have to constantly go back to the developer and say. ‘Your escrow needs to be replenished.’ This is more efficient for the staff and the developer” said Botchie.

The town council also voted to approve a holiday market in this year’s economic development budget. The market will be held after the Great Pumpkin Festival, possibly the first weekend in December.

“It would just bring everybody together in the community,” said Linda Kent, leader of the Millville Volunteers group and market manager of the Millville Farmer’s Market.

The market will be held in the daytime, will include local vendors and non-profits, and will have refreshments for the townspeople in a kick-off to the holiday season.

“Smyrna and Lewes do it,” said Kent, adding that, in this area, Millville would be the first town to host such an event. Botchie said she hopes to have a tree-lighting ceremony in coming years but said she has put it off this year because of the work on Route 26.

“I do want to have a tree-lighting,” said Botchie, “just not this year. Right now, I am just asking for your blessing to move forward with planning.”

The town council also heard at the meeting from Chuck Ellison of Miller & Sons, the developers of Millville By the Sea. Ellison introduced some of the others on the team working on land planning and engineering for the project.

“We are excited to move forward,” said Ellison. He said the project is 746 acres and, since taking over in 2006, they have revisited the plans a bit to more fit the current economic climate and the growing needs of the area.

“We made our cultural center smaller. It wasn’t practical for a 25- to 30-year community,” said Ellison, referencing the number of years a complete build-out should take. Other discussion topics included adjustments to traffic patterns, the goal of the town center, Beebe Medical Center and its eventual satellite location off of Route 17, and open space and their trail network.

The council heard about trends in home building and the need for current homebuilding practices trending toward smaller lots and footprints to be incorporated into the overall design of the project. Nate Scott, a land planner with the project, said they don’t have plans to change the overall goals of the community, but they hope their tweaks will make something good even better.

“A lot of things are very consistent or the same as the approved plan,” said Scott. “But some we are doing with more sensitivity,” He said that is in hopes that they will be able to make a “well-designed community into an even better-designed community.”