Millville town garage, pavilion discussed by council members

With the expansion of Millville’s town hall scheduled to be completed on Feb. 12, 2011, Mayor Don Minyon and the council at their workshop on Tuesday, Nov. 30, discussed the possible disposition of the freestanding garage.

Minyon asked the council if they would like to keep the garage or, as the town appears to have outgrown it, have it taken by one of a number of interested parties and moved off town property.

“I don’t think that this garage – it barely suits our needs now, and three years from now I don’t think it will. I would say, if there are folks out there that want it and are willing to take it, I would definitely move forward with the specifications of what we want to be left with. In my mind’s eye, I want the concrete gone, graded,” said Councilman Mike Jeffers.

During the discussion, Minyon brought up that the town has so far come in substantially under budget on the expansion project – by approximately $125,000 – and he hoped the council would consider his idea for the land southeast of the town’s current parking area.

“We’ve come in so under budget, I thought this would be a good time to give back to the people. Have something somewhere – a meeting place in town,” said Minyon.

The mayor suggested the town construct a 25-by-60-foot pavilion that the town could use for get-togethers, a farmer’s market, yard sales, weddings, birthday parties and so on.

“We don’t have the ground right now for a park,” he said. “This can be a start.”

He said the town would be able to partner with the Delaware Land Trust to receive a 50 percent grant for the project, Phase 1 of which would cost approximately $22,000.

“I love the idea of a park, a common place,” said Jeffers.

“I’m not so sure we won’t need that land someday for a public safety building,” responded Councilman Gerald “Gerry” Hocker Jr. “I don’t want to build something that gets used a dozen times a year and then all of a sudden not have enough land to build a public safety building and then have to go buy land somewhere.”

The council consensus was that there was no rush to move forward on either the building of a pavilion or the removal of the garage.

“There are a lot of unknowns at this point. I don’t think we need to rush to make a decision,” said Jeffers.

“So we’re keeping the garage until we have a master plan,” added Minyon. “We’re going to put this on hold until the completion of our building and the grading of that property over there.”

The council went on to discuss the codification of the updated town charter and ordinances by General Code.

“Because there were some grammatical errors in the original copies of our town code, our attorney [Seth Thompson] tells us we have to approve any changes, whether they be grammatical, even if they’re not substantive,” explained Minyon.

Town Manager Debbie Botchie explained that General Code does an examination of the town’s code and ordinances and matches it up with Delaware state code.

“Although the town did not have issues matching up with Delaware code, there were a few grammatical errors,” she said.

She noted that she and Thompson had begun revisions approximately a year ago, having to go through each ordinance brought to the town’s attention by General Code.

“This ordinance will do a general clean-up of all of our ordinances, and it puts it in sections, chapters – so we have to actually approve the ordinances to get the codification,” she explained.

Jeffers asked Botchie if the revisions were material, or changes in the spirit or letter of the law.

“Nothing in the spirit of what this council or previous council has approved,” Botchie said. “It’s minor things like, ‘the the.’ There were some things like dollar amounts that we talked about before that we wanted to take out and put in the fee schedule. That’s all taken care of.”

A public hearing and vote on the codification is scheduled for the council’s Dec. 14 meeting.

Minyon also presented council with an idea to distribute the town’s restricted funds. He proposed that the town take 5 percent of future incoming transfer tax revenue and put it into an economic development fund that would help fund the Pumpkin Festival, business breakfasts, holiday decorations and possibly a town newsletter and transportation.

By law, transfer tax revenue can only be used for public safety, infrastructure, interest on debt, capital improvements and economic development.

“We only spend public safety on state police. We don’t have any infrastructure. We don’t have any interest on a debt. And we’re not doing any economic development right now,” said Minyon. “If we approve this, any new transfer tax coming in after approval, 5 percent would go into economic development account. We have that account set up. What we did is we rolled in the money from the town’s anniversary celebration. That is dwindling. We still have a good bit of money left in there, but it’s not going to last forever.”

“I think it’s a wise idea. Do you think 5 percent is enough?” asked Jeffers.

“I don’t know what’s enough and what’s too much,” replied Minyon, who also noted that the account currently has $15,000 in it.

“I’m pleased with what we’re hearing,” said Councilman Richard Thomas.

“I think it’s a good idea to dedicate some money to go into that,” added Councilman Jon Subity.

Council approved the proposed draft, with 5 percent of transfer tax to be taken out quarterly, on a vote of 5-0.

The council concluded its workshop by discussing an extension of approval for the Barrington Park final site plan.

The project is coming up on its three-year mark from site plan approval, at which time the approval expires. It is the first residential planned community (RPC) that has been approved in the town.

Barrington Park and Beazer Homes are requesting a two-year extension to the currently approved site plan approval, “due to economic and market conditions for new homes over the past few years, which has not allowed Barrington to commence development on the site in accordance with the approved plans.”

There is a new concept design for Barrington, which – as it was explained to Botchie – would lower the density, as they would reduce the number of condominiums and focus more on townhouses and single-family homes.

All the subdivision fees – $457 per lot, on 547 lots – had been paid; however, Botchie noted that the project simply got caught up in the market.

The council will vote on whether or not to offer an extension for Barrington Park at their Dec. 14 meeting.

The council also discussed amending ordinance 07-05 to allow for a performing-arts theater and banquet facilities to the list of the town’s permitted conditional uses.

“We didn’t have that in any of our uses, as far as commercial use. We looked at it as ‘How can we create this type of business without modifying our commercial use in the C-1 and C-2 districts?’” explained Botchie.

A draft of the ordinance has been written by Botchie and approved by Thompson, and it would allow a performing-arts theater as a conditional use.

“It would give council the opportunity to put restrictions and conditions on it, if you were to allow it as conditional use,” she said.

The ordinance would also allow for a performing-arts theater with or without a permitted accessory banquet hall. A public hearing and vote will be held on Dec. 14.

Finally, Minyon noted that the MillVols volunteer group will be two years old this coming January. Although a date has not been set, he said he plans to hold a party for the volunteer organization, which has logged 2,155 volunteer hours so far this year.