Four property owners have put in applications to the town of Millville to be rezoned from C-1 to C-2 commercial zoning designations. The properties, which are along the Route 26 corridor, are all currently zoned C-1 – for mixed residential and light commercial use.
The town’s zoning ordinance states, “The purpose of this district is to provide a mixed-use district, which provides a mixed residential, retail convenience, and shopping and personal service use area.” It notes that the district is not meant to accommodate regional shopping facilities.
C-2 zoning, which is what the four applicants are requesting for their properties, is strictly for the commercial use of large-scale shopping facilities. Properties zoned C-2 may erect such businesses as motels, supermarkets and religious worship facilities.
At their May 11 meeting, town council took time to discuss the applications and to hear the opinions of residents.
Mayor Don Minyon said the council will vote on rezoning in June, in order to give council enough time to make the best decision for the town.
“We do care about what the people think in Millville, and that’s why I don’t want to hastily do a vote on this,” said Minyon.
Planning and Zoning commissioners sent out a town-wide survey in the spring of 2008. In all, 450 surveys were sent out to property owners, and 121 people responded. Of the 122 surveys that were sent to town businesses, 22 responses were received. It was noted this week that approximately 80 percent of the respondents were not in favor of C-2 zoning.
Bob Linett, chairman of the Planning and Zoning Commission, referred to another town survey that was done in 2003, which showed similar concerns from residents about larger-scale businesses and the impact they would have on traffic.
Councilman Mike Jeffers said he could understand both sides – the potential for business from the owner’s perspective, as well as residential concern for what might be erected. He said that, without a site-plan, he questions why the properties would request a zoning change.
“It forces me to envision a very large operation on any one of these properties, be it a Wawa or a Wal-mart. It just seems to me, if we had more information about specifically what would go on these locations, we could make the decision a little easier,” Jeffers said.
Town Manager Debbie Botchie noted that the town’s current code does not require a site plan for rezoning. Property owners can apply and be approved or denied zoning changes without presenting any site plan to the town.
Robert and Carol Gordon, who live on Route 26, have been attending town meetings and continued to state this week that they are adamantly against approving the rezoning applications.
“Since I’m in the middle of ‘the big four,’ I’m not for it. When I bought my house 10 years ago, it was more of a residential area than a commercial district,” said Robert Gordon to the council. “What scares me to death is, you grant someone C-2, they sell or move and I’m sitting next to Wawa or some other big gas station.
“Right now,” he continued, “it’s bad enough being C-1, listening to the Dumpsters come at 5 o’clock in the morning, or dump trucks coming in the middle of the night, making deliveries and slamming tailgates. It may not be residential. It may not be the house or the community I bought 10 years ago, but what scares me is the unknown of what could be next door.”
The town council will hold its regular monthly workshop on Tuesday, May 25, at 7 p.m. Minyon urged Millville residents and business owners to attend, so that council may get a better understanding of the town’s consensus on the issue.
“My hope is that more and more business and citizens will come to the next meeting and voice their opinions to give us some direction of what we need to do. We have the comprehensive plan. We have the surveys. But I need to hear real people from the town and what they actually want us to do,” said Minyon. “That’s what we’re here to do, is to represent the people and businesses of the town.”
In other Millville news:
• On Wednesday, May 19, at 7:30 a.m. the town will hold its third Business Breakfast, at town hall. Charles Ellison of Millville By the Sea will be a guest speaker, as will Richard Block, who is opening a community theater in the town. Councilman Jon Subity will talk about the Great Pumpkin Festival & Farmers’ Market he is planning for the fall.
• The mayor is planning a town-wide yard sale on Saturday, July 3, from 8 a.m. to noon.
• Subity will hold the next Pumpkin Festival meeting on Tuesday, May 18, at 6 p.m. at town hall. All who are interested are welcome to attend.
• Millville Volunteer Trudi Lombardi received Volunteer of the Year Award from Retired and Senior Volunteer Persons (RSVP) of Delaware.
• The Millville Giant received recognition from the state for collecting 200 pounds of food over the winter, to distribute at the Pyle Center.
• On the afternoon of Wednesday, May 19, the town will host Delaware’s First Lady, Carla Markell, to meet with three volunteer groups in the area. She will meet with the Millville Volunteers, as well as volunteers at Beebe Medical Center and the Center for the Inland Bays.