Millville does away with special development district

With little fanfare — albeit some applause — the Millville Town Council this week quietly approved a resolution revoking Millville By The Sea’s status as a special development district, or SDD. The resolution they passed terminated the Millville By The Sea (MBTS) Special Development District and the MBTS Special Fund created on Feb. 10, 2009. It also revoked the related pledge of the proceeds of the MBTS Special Tax to the MBTS Special Fund.

Residents came out in droves in July when the subject of the SDD was first up for discussion. The subject was on the agenda to refresh the memories of council members, as new members had joined the council since Millville by the Sea was designated as an SDD in 2009.

Designating it a district is only the first step in the SDD process. No ordinance to levy a tax, issue bonds or fund the district was ever passed.

Many people speaking to the council in July offered the same argument, that Millville by the Sea was not the “master-planned community” it had once been designated as, so the SDD, and especially the tax, were no longer needed.

Originally, the SDD was discussed as possibly being a vehicle to fund a town hall expansion and/or a police department within the town — both things the Town has done already done independent of a special tax.

Councilwoman Joan Bennett thanked all the homeowners of Millville By the Sea for making their opinions known with letters, phone calls and petitions.

“I feel I have to vote this way so the people of Millville By the Sea are heard. They themselves don’t feel it is a benefit to themselves or to the Town,” she said, justifying her vote to revoke the designation.

Councilman Harry Kent agreed, saying the only equitable way to go forward as a town was to revoke the designation, and Councilman Robert Gordon said he felt it was in the best interest “of the town and the townspeople” to revoke it.

Councilman Jon Subity recused himself, as he has done in all previous votes and discussions concerning the SDD, so Mayor Gerry Hocker rounded out the 4-0 vote.

“The citizens that live there will be greatly impacted,” Hocker said. “It’s been rather remarkable the amount of support the council received to vote one way or another,” he noted, thanking those who were in the audience again this week. “In addition, the vision they had… Ideas change, and I don’t feel this was what they were envisioning,” he said of the time when the district was designated. “To me, personally, there is nothing to differentiate it from a [residential planned community] and no reason to justify not voting for the resolution.”

When asked if Millville by the Sea was still a “master planned community,” or MPC, Town Solicitor Seth Thompson said it was, that this vote only affected it being designated as a special development district. He also said it doesn’t “foreclose” the opportunity for a similar application in the future but rather “ends the application that was submitted previously.”

Residents thanked the town council after the vote for listening to their concerns.

“Thank you,” said Mitch Ruben, a part-time resident and Millville By the Sea property owner. “It shows that the system is still there and working.”