Millville by the sea one step closer

The Millville Town Council has given the second of three required approvals for the Millville by the Sea development (formerly named Millville Township).

Council members at their Oct. 11 meeting granted unanimous approval for the more detailed plan presented by Bob Harris, president of Gulfstream Development and a member of the Millville Group, which is developing the large planned community.

Millville officials approved the development’s sketch plan in April 2005, with the third required approval of a more detailed plan still needed before construction can actually begin.

The plans presented Tuesday and on display at the town hall during the last week depicted the first phase of Millville by the Sea, comprising 192 homes on 50 acres off Substation Road, a half-mile south of Burbage Road.

Most of the homes in Phase 1 will be single-family homes, Harris noted, with some townhomes also included in the phase. The resulting density will be 3.5 dwelling units per acre, he said, adding that it was a lower density than the average planned for the whole project.

The area included in Phase 1 is being tackled first by the developer due to its location next to the new sewer lift station that will service Millville by the Sea and other neighboring developments, Harris explained. The station itself is to be given to and operated by the county, he said.

Construction on Phase 1 is expected to start within the next year, with homes ready for residents to move in some 18 to 24 months down the road.

Along with the construction of the development, its homes and green space, Harris said, the project will include redevelopment of Substation Road — complete with a new and more aesthetically pleasing name (yet to be determined).

The road will be widened, with sidewalks lining either side and tied into the pathways and crossings that are designed to keep pedestrians off the development’s roads. That element of the design, Harris pointed out, was included in the master planned community (MPC) design standards under which the development was initially given the green light.

The community will be designed to be “walkable,” with its existing ditches expanded to become the streams Harris said they would have been 100 years ago, some up to 200 feet wide. That will not only enhance stormwater drainage but work to create the greenways included in the plan, he noted.

Harris said the look of the community will be somewhat traditional in its dwellings but will resemble a small town rather than a development.

With the approval granted Tuesday, the developers will now be taking into account comments made by the town’s planning consultants and council members in preparing the final plan for the third stage of required approvals. If approved, the revised, final plan will be the one from which the development is constructed.

Harris said that he had received a letter from the planning consultants that very day and believed “almost all” of the recommendations made could be accommodated in the final plan.

Councilman Richard Thomas expressed concern as to whether a wider alley width (16 feet) than the 12 feet suggested on the plan was one of those accommodations. The wider width was a concern because Thomas wanted to make sure it would allow fire equipment access to the homes from the alleys.

Thomas described a conversation with Millville Volunteer Fire Company Fire Chief Eddie Hammond in which the issue had been expressed as a priority.

MVFC President Greg Tietmeyer, in attendance at the hearing, also emphasized how important planning for use of the company’s ladder trucks was in the initial planning for the community. He said the company required 13 feet, 8 inches of level ground to set up a ladder truck — wider than the planned alley width.

Harris said the fire equipment access had been considered in selecting the 12-foot width, in consultation with the State Fire Marshal’s office and the manufacturer of the largest fire truck currently in use in the state (in the Rehoboth Beach company) and would accommodate the vehicle, according to its specifications.

Additionally, Harris said, the 12-foot alleys would be flanked by improved, stabilized right-of-way areas confirmed by the development engineer to total 20 feet in width with the improved rights-of-way and roadway combined, allowing for enough stable ground upon which to set up the ladder trucks.

Harris also noted that the townhomes on the alleys were served by both the alleys and a front-aligned, paved roadway, providing access on both sides of the dwellings. The exception was for some townhomes on Route 17, where Route 17 itself is the planned secondary access.

Thomas also requested verification that there were two off-street parking spaces provided for each dwelling, in addition to garage space and not including that space. Harris confirmed that and noted that provision was made for all the dwellings in the phase, not just the single-family homes.

Councilman Tim Droney asked Harris to ensure that provisions were being made for recycling and trash pickup throughout all of the phases of the development. Harris said it would be taken into account.

Property owner Steve Wode (also a member of the Bethany Beach Planning Commission and resident of that town) noted that his experience had shown many weekend residents of the area left their trash cans at the curb until they returned the following weekend and recommended some kind of containers to keep any trash cans from blowing away.

Wode also asked whether any moderately-priced housing was being included in Millville by the Sea — something that might be suitable for a police officer on an average officer’s salary.

Harris said nothing had been specifically planned to fit in that price range, but that part of the MPC standard included an allowance for a second dwelling area on a lot — a “mother-in-law suite” above a garage, for instance — and such a living arrangement might allow a police officer to get established in the area.

“I would hope that after they have been there for a while, they will be able to buy a regular home” in the community, Harris said.

Wode asked for a general price range for homes in Millville by the Sea, but Harris said he couldn’t offer one, with sale of the first phase still a year and a half to two years out and completion of the final phase some 12 years in the future.

Also at the Oct. 11 public hearing session:

• Council members unanimously approved the annexation of lands owned by Daniel G. King, Diane L. King, Peggy M. Ash Oakley and George Oakley on Route 17. The two parcels comprise 24.53 acres owned by the four applicants and .93 acres owned by the Kings.

Council members further unanimously approved a zoning change for the land, from R-Residential to RPC-Residential Planned Community.

Mayor Gary Willey confirmed that the change would allow a higher density of development on the land, since the RPC zoning allows mixed development that would include both single-family and multi-family dwellings.

• Unanimous approval was also given to a subdivision request for Lands of Pleasure Homes LLC for property on Cedar Drive. The subdivision creates two additional lots on the property.