Millville By the Sea opts not to pursue SDD implementation

In a letter dated Sept. 20, 2012, Charles D. Ellison Jr., vice president of Miller & Smith — the developers of Millville By the Sea — wrote to Millville Town Manager Debbie Botchie and Mayor Gerry Hocker, saying that Miller & Smith “will not be pursuing the implementation of the Special Development District (SDD) for Millville by the Sea at this time.”

After coming before the town council in July regarding the SDD tax and hearing opposition from Millville By the Sea residents, the developers had been on the Sept. 25 town council workshop agenda to present a revised proposal for the SDD. They subsequently asked to have that topic deleted from the meeting’s agenda.

While the proposal is no longer on this week’s agenda, the town council does still have the termination of the original resolution designating Millville By the Sea as a SDD on its Oct. 9 town council agenda for possible action.

On Sept. 11, the Millville Town Council denied a request by Miller & Smith for an extension that would have allowed them to present a proposed restructuring of the community’s SDD later in the fall. Ellison had said at that time that he would be able to present a revised proposal Sept. 25.

This week, Ellison wrote that he would like to provide a detailed report “on the status of the community and the plans that are under way.” He also said that the report will “clear up any misunderstandings about Millville By the Sea” and correct what he called “erroneous” statements that have been said about the community in meetings.

Millville By the Sea was originally designated a SDD in 2009, but an ordinance was never passed to levy the associated tax, issue bonds or fund the district. At the July meeting, John Stalfort of Miles & Stockbridge, an attorney for the Town working solely on the bond issue, explained that the SDD would provide a vehicle to finance public infrastructure, such as roads, sewer and water, on a tax-free basis.

The SDD was also 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 since done “on its own,” said Mayor Gerry Hocker, explaining that the new town hall building, the adjacent parking lot and their agreement with the Delaware State Police all came after talks of the district and that they were financed independently, with town funds.

Many people spoke against the SDD, saying that Millville By the Sea was not as big a community as originally planned and therefore would not be the drain it would have been on infrastructure, and that several of the things the SDD tax was going to pay for had already happened, such as the new town hall building.

In July, when Ellison was asked what they would do if the bonds were not issued and the tax not levied, he said they had two options: either to find an alternative financing source, which he surmised to be “non-existent,” or to wait out the economy, which some residents said they felt that Millville By the Sea should do — as they as individual homeowners, and everyone else, has had to do.

In his letter this week, he stated that they “found there are alternatives that would allow Millville By the Sea developers to release existing residents of Sand Dollar Village from any obligation to participate in the SDD.” He added that they would like to “reserve the right to approach the Town at a future date if the need for the SDD returns.”

Although Ellison and Miller & Smith have decided they will not be pursuing implementation of the SDD at this time, the town council could at its Oct. 9 meeting terminate altogether the original resolution designating Millville By the Sea as a SDD.