Millville establishes annexation fee

For those near-Millville residents who’ve tired of explaining that they live “out in the county,” between points A and B — bad news. It will now cost $750 to be considered for townieship.

Millville town council unanimously established the fee at the Nov. 14 council meeting, which would be levied per request, rather than per parcel. One resident in attendance, Mark Reeve, asked whether it might not be in the town’s interest to ask $750 per parcel instead.

However, as Interim Mayor Tim Droney and Council Member Donald Minyon explained, the fee was meant to cover the town’s costs in time and paperwork, and the amount of work was the same whether it was one parcel or many.

“It’s better than nothing, which is what we’ve been getting,” Droney added.

Annexation requests start with a petition from the adjacent property owners, which are then considered by town committee. If the committee views the annexation favorably, council can approve the request by a two-thirds vote.

Even if the committee doesn’t like the annexation, council can accept it by a three-fourths vote. If that fails, parties requesting annexation are still entitled to a public hearing, and get to vote alongside Millville property owners/registered voters in a special election. Simple majority and they’re in.

On the flip side, council talked about de-annexing a portion of the Lord Baltimore Elementary School. Droney said the question would be placed on the regular election ballot (March 3, 2007), to avoid the necessity of holding a separate special election.

If approved, that portion of school grounds would revert to Sussex County, opening the way for Ocean View to annex the property. The Ocean View town charter leaves open whether neighboring property owners must request annexation, or whether the town can get the ball rolling.

Which is a good thing in this case, as there are no residents on the Lord Baltimore Elementary property. Although school employees might sometimes feel like they live there.

Lord Baltimore had a rather confusing triple jurisdiction for years — Ocean View annexed a portion designated as Sussex County lands just last year.

• In other business, council discussed some random Delaware State Police coverage over the holidays. As Droney pointed out, “This is not meant to be for traffic control — of course, if you had a traffic problem, they’d help you — it’s to let people know they’re here.”

• Town Manager Linda Collins reported on the purchase of a new computer server, security software to accompany the town’s wireless internet service and hardwiring of Town Hall for security reasons (roughly $2,600 in all).

• Council Member Joan Bennett pressed her colleagues on council to keep things moving on two recently adopted resolutions, covering (1) permitted hours for construction and (2) a moratorium on moving building in Millville. Bennett said she wanted council to adopt those resolutions in ordinance form, in a timely fashion.

Whitney Price, a resident of the Townsend Acres development — just south of town — questioned council about a blurb in the town newsletter, reading, “Home Depot and Dove Landing (Beazer Homes) will begin developing on Rt. 17 in the near future…”

Price said she’d spent an inordinate amount of time trying to determine which governmental body had approved the Home Depot project, but to no avail.

Droney said it hadn’t been a question of granting approval for specific project, in this case a Home Depot. The property was zoned for commercial use when the developer bought it — by rights, the developer could build a Home Depot, or a grocery store or whatever, Droney explained.

The state first reviewed the property in 2000 when local resident Russell Banks requested annexation into Millville, and rezoning, for a large, townhouses-plus-commercial project.

At that time, State Planning Coordinator David Hugg said the state objected to the annexation because it would have created an “enclave” of land in Millville, which would only be accessible via county roads. “However, if this parcel were part of a much larger annexation extending the Town boundaries down Route 17 or down Windmill Road and Burbage Road, the State would not be opposed to the annexation,” Hugg said.

Millville annexed and rezoned the property in late 2001. Home Depot bought the property, and first submitted site plans for state (and local) review in 2005.