Millville continues work on commercial design standards

On Sept. 14, engineer Kyle Gulbronson of URS presented his draft of Millville’s new Design Standards, which are geared toward commercial businesses and properties on Routes 26 and 17, to members of the Millville Planning & Zoning Commission. The commissioners determined that they would take three meetings to go through the draft and discuss its contents.

Section 1-3 was assigned for commissioners’ review and will be discussed at their October meeting. The draft includes absolute requirements for both developers and builders, and guidelines, which are simply suggestions or recommendations from the town.

Gulbronson noted that design standards are fairly new in Delaware but, he said, “It’s the wave of the future.”

He suggested that the commissioners take a look at downtown Ocean City or Annapolis, Md., which both have design standards. Lewes and Bethany Beach also have guidelines, and Gulbronson has just drafted standards for Rehoboth Beach.

The commissioners then discussed whether the town should permit LED-type signs at commercial properties in Millville. They were divided about the signage. They said they believed it would be an improvement over the current slide or stick signs. However, they were concerned about the signs making the area gaudy.

Gulbronson suggested the commissioners review Millsboro’s draft design standards to see how they limit the usage of the LED signs in that town. He also recommended that the commissioners drive through Ocean City and look to see what kind of sign displays they like the best.

Gulbronson said he would rework Millsboro’s draft to Millville’s specific requirements, such as limiting size, requiring a frame to match the structure to the building, limiting signs to black-and-white lettering and permitting no animations. The draft will be presented at next month’s meeting.

Commission approves propane tank field

A propane tank field for Windhurst Manor was another topic of discussion at the Sept. 14 meeting. Originally, each lot in the community was designed to have its own propane tank. However, given the possibilities of future property issues, the supplier, Poore’s Propane, this week presented a plan to install a tank field instead.

The field would ensure that trucks would not have to park in a neighbor’s driveway in order to fill a middle unit’s tank. It would also cut down on the number of truck trips into the community, representatives said. Poore’s currently has a two-year contract with developer Ryan Homes that, once expired, would mean multiple propane companies could possibly be coming into the community at varying times.

Current residents have been offered the right to tie into the proposed tank field, and Poore’s would remove the individual tanks that have been placed 10 to 15 feet from their homes. As of Tuesday, none of the current residents had responded to that offer.

The tank field would be placed away from the homes, in a wooded area. The tanks themselves will be buried approximately 48 inches under the ground, depending on the water table. The surrounded area would then be stoned. The only portion of the tank that would be visible is a small dome.

Poore’s would also have native trees planted around the area to help conceal the field and make it more aesthetically pleasing. Once those trees have reached maturity, in two to four years, they will measure in approximately 6 feet in diameter and 8 to 9 feet in height. As Poore’s must check on the tanks once a month, their servicemen will also maintain the landscaping for the field, performing weeding and other tasks.

Commissioners said they were concerned about the loss of existing trees on the site, as they noticed more trees had been taken out by the developer than what was actually approved. The commissioners said they will be bringing up the loss of trees to the developer.

But the commissioners voted 3-0 in favor of Poore’s Propane installing the propane field for Windhurst Manor.

New commercial districts take shape

Finally, the commissioners discussed the C1 and C2 commercial zoning district packet presented by Gulbronson. He noted that the 5 acres of the Shops at Millville were not reflected in the town’s comprehensive plan. The commissioners approved the addition of the 3.36 acres of the Food Lion shopping center and Hickman Plaza to the C2 zoning district. The addition of the Banks property to the Millville Town Center will add another acre, bringing it to 16.57 acres.

The commissioners voted 4-0 in favor of the changes being consistent with the Comprehensive Plan as to what moves into the C2 area. In the coming months, they will be taking the package into its final stages and notifying the properties and neighboring properties of the changes. A public hearing is to be set.

The next Millville Planning and Zoning Commission meeting is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 19, at the Millville Town Hall.