The Millville Town Council voted this week to approve a right-of-entry agreement with DelDOT that will allow DelDOT to enter the Town’s property to begin construction of the Route 26 Mainline Improvement project, after having discussed the agreement in detail at their Nov. 27 workshop. The right-of-entry agreement will allow DelDOT to proceed with construction while compensation negotiations are still ongoing.
Boy Scout Troop 281 from Ocean View sat in on the council meeting, and Town Solicitor Seth Thompson explained a little bit about the agreement, for their benefit.
“Municipalities have to approve the widening of state-maintained highways in that municipality,” explained Thompson. “The government has to compensate us for the land used and this right-of-entry is a first step. It has the Town giving DelDOT the right to go on the property and starts a clock.”
He also explained that the Town gets compensated for their land, as do individual property and business owners.
“That’s a bird’s-eye view of the process.”
Dollar General neighbor complains about notice for project
Millville also heard this week from property owner Willy Caffey about the new Dollar General store and the way the Town notifies property owners about commercial construction. Caffey said he bought two lots in neighboring Denton Mills in 2005 and 2007 and that they were de-valued now because of the Dollar General.
“I saw a truck one week. The next week they were building, and the next week it was up,” said Caffey about the swiftness of the construction. “I don’t know how the average person not sitting behind that bench would know what was going on.”
He read from the site plan notice the tax map and parcel numbers that mentioned a “retail store” and asked how he would know what that is.
“I don’t see any reason why you can’t call. We get calls when it snows,” he said, adding that he had invested a lot of money in the lots.
“Now I look at the back of a store and they’re worthless,” he said of his lots.
Caffey said he had talked with the contractor on the project, who told him had he come to him sooner, there could have possibly been provisions made for privacy fencing or trees, but since it was so late in the process, there wasn’t really anything that could be done.
“It’s a nice-looking store, nice parking lot. I am just saying there could have been some sort of call or letter or email or something.”
Mayor Gerry Hocker said the Town “follows the laws of the state and follows the code,” and Town Manager Debbie Botchie added that she had tried to explain to Caffey how the process worked.
“We do what we are required to do,” she said.
“It’s done. I can’t tear the building down. But as a courtesy, how tough would it be to call somebody up?” retorted Caffey.
Botchie noted that people complain now about the calls about storms, etc., and asked “when would it end?”
“If I called three people up, a fourth would call up and say, ‘Why didn’t you call me?’”
Caffey reiterated that, with his name on the blueprint as the adjacent property owner, he believed he at least deserved a call.
“It’s not like you have 16,000 buildings going up.”
“Gerry,” he said addressing the mayor, “I know damn well if somebody was going to build something near you, somebody would tell you,” to which Hocker replied, “I live closer to it than you do.”
Thompson explained that, as a commercially-zoned property, the property could, by right, be developed as many things, and the store only had to go through the site-plan approval process and not any re-zoning, which would have been a longer process, with more notices and hearings.
“When you bought that property, you’re put on notice what can go there.”
In October 2011, Botchie had stated at a council meeting that Dollar General was possibly interested in the property, which was already zoned commercial and, as a result, for construction of the company’s stores.
In June of this year, Dollar General met with Planning & Zoning commissioners to review their site-plan application. They met with them again in July, after specifying materials from the Town’s design standards that they were using and, in August, the final site plan was approved. The completed store opened for business at the end of November.