Traffic concerns at center of workshop

Kyle Gulbronson, Millville’s land planner, has concerns about development in the town.
Mostly, he’s concerned that local developers are more worried about building individual developments rather than looking at the big picture — a problem he said has emerged with neighborhoods on Route 26.

He addressed his concerns to a group of Toll Brothers developers at a Monday workshop at Millville Town Hall concerning a proposed development on the Oakley property on Route 17.

Toll Brothers, a 37-year old Pennsylvania-based development company that builds luxury homes across the county, has a regional office in Ocean View.

At Monday’s workshop, company representatives presented a plan for a 157-home development 1,200 feet south of Route 26, on Route 17. If they are both approved, the project would border Dove’s Landing, another proposed development combining residential and commercial properties.

In the Toll Brothers’ proposal — which is only in the “preliminary to the preliminary” stage according to Archie Kohr, project manager — there would only be one entrance to the neighborhood. Residents would not be able to get to the commercial area of Dove’s Landing unless they left the development altogether and re-enter the commercial area no more than 100 yards south.

“If we have a series of isolated neighborhoods, we’re going to have the same problem we have on Route 26 today,” Gulbronson told the developers on Monday. “We should look at some kind of interconnectivity. I’m sure you’ll probably hear that from DelDOT too.”

Toll Brothers officials are set to meet at 11:15 a.m. on Feb. 22 with a group of state agencies, including DelDOT and the Office of the State Fire Marshal, to hear concerns before looking for individual approvals thereafter.

Development for the proposed 157-home neighborhood is still years away, officials said, but they wanted to hear opinions from Millville town officials first before proceeding with the plans.

“This is courtesy,” Kohr said of the Monday meeting with the town. “We wanted to go to the town first. We wanted their feedback.”

Most of the concerns addressed at Monday’s workshop centered on traffic coming in and out of the proposed development.

With the proposed Millville by the Sea master planned community and the Dove’s Landing and Oakley property developments, traffic on Route 17 could soon resemble that on Route 26. In the summer – especially considering that Kohl and other Toll Brothers’ representatives said that the development would likely attract to seasonal, or perhaps even weekly, residents — the traffic volume on the road could become a nightmare.

“Additional traffic is a concern,” said Gary Willey, Millville mayor. “That’s a concern of all of us.”

Toll Brothers’ developers said, however, that they were looking into providing a shuttle from the proposed development to the beach, to help remedy some of the seemingly unavoidable traffic problems in the area.

But without looking into entrances between the proposed developments, there is still a problem, Gulbronson said. Without having “interconnectivity,” he noted, local developers are just building neighborhoods instead of a town. “I hope they are looking at the big picture,” he said. “It’s a cumulative effort.”