Millville deals with future, past

It’s a juggling act for officials of many small towns along Delmarva in recent years — balance the burgeoning growth and subsequent administrative needs with doing everything possible to maintain the small-town feel that residents have come to enjoy. Perhaps no town faces this challenge more obviously than Millville.

With numerous residential and commercial projects in the pipeline, Millville Mayor Gary Willey discussed the possibility of instituting impact fees on new projects in the town during the Dec. 13 town council meeting.

Willey argued that money generated from these fees would go to additional infrastructure needs in the town, and that it would make sense for developers to foot the bill.

“Either that,” Willey said, “or the residents of the town would need to come up with the money. People in town shouldn’t have to pay for these new subdivisions.”

Willey asked Town Manager Linda Collins to contact the town solicitor, Jim Fuqua, and determine the town’s best course of action.

In keeping with the theme of growth, council heard a report from the town’s annexation committee regarding the proposed annexation of the Toomey property on Route 17.

According to the committee, headed by Council Member Richard Thomas, the town has no real negatives in annexing the property and has the positive benefit of geographically securing up the area surrounding that property.

Willey said the findings were sent to the state planning office in Dover for final approval.

Along Route 26, Willey said, he had word from the project’s developer that the Super G grocery store in the new Millville Town Center shopping center “would be opened by May.” Willey went on to say that the new banks in the center would be opened before then, possibly in March.

Willey also announced that the start of work on the Route 26 improvement plan had officially been pushed back a year, to 2009, however, he cautioned that the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) was still not sure where the money for the project would come from, considering the $287 million budget shortfall experienced by the department.

The project along Route 26 will involve a three-lane road from Bethany Beach west to Clarksville. Sidewalks will be on both sides of the road to the Millville Town Hall, then there would be no sidewalks further west.

Willey addressed rumors that the state would be taking real estate transfer fees from the counties and towns, and said he was assured the towns were not at risk, but the county certainly was.

“And that’s not really good for any of us,” cautioned Willey. “If the county loses out on that money … rest assured they’ll make up for it somehow — probably in the form of county taxes.”

Also, Willey said that the recent contract on land at the intersection of Route 26 and Cedar Drive by Artisan’s Bank would bring the total number of banks along that stretch of road to seven, including the three banks in the new shopping center.

“There must be money in Millville,” said Council Member Clifton Toomey, prompting laughs from the council and audience.

According to Willey, the new Dove Landing project will soon be getting central sewer. He said that the pavement along the road can’t be torn up until the end of summer, and that the sewer installation project is expected to begin in September 2006.

As far as commemorating the history of the town, plans are well under way for celebrations marking Millville’s centennial anniversary on May 20.

Willey said plans involve a parade down Route 26, live music, kiddie rides and a celebration at the Millville Volunteer Fire Hall. Willy stressed that the fire company will be a big part of the celebration, as they have been a major part in the history of the town.

“It’s going to be a big day,” said Willey. “We’re really going to celebrate it.”

In other news:

• Judy Padgett was introduced as a new part-time clerk for the town. Padgett was hired to help clerk Sue Knox with the increased amount of paperwork in the office and will also support Collins in administrative duties.

• Toomey reported the town’s finances were “in good shape,” and that the financial structures to start a town police fund have been established.

• The state police have been patrolling the town four times a week since Nov. 21. The town is funding extra police coverage through Jan. 21.

• Collins announced that town officials were scheduled to meet with Sussex County engineers on Thursday, Dec. 15, to discuss future sewer plans for the town. The results of the meeting will be discussed in next month’s town council meeting.

• Also, a few proposed resolutions will be coming up for vote, after the town has a chance to advertise the proposals and put them on a town council agenda. Included in these resolutions will be guidelines regarding Freedom of Information Act documents and a new town fee schedule.