The Millville Town Council at its Tuesday, Nov. 13, meeting passed a measure that sets parameters for “small-scale commercial” development along its commercial corridors on Route 26 and Route 17.
The measure passed 4-0, with Council Vice President Steve Maneri absent.
Town Manager Debbie Botchie explained that the new ordinance would replace current zoning regulations that “only allow one principal use per lot” with new language that sets up zoning regulations for the town's C-1 commercial zones that allow for multiple businesses on one piece of property.
The benefit of the change, according to Botchie, is that instead of having, for example, four entrances, with four signs and four stormwater-management systems, properties can be combined for the development of “town center”-type areas, which could be shops or offices or a combination of those two uses, with only one entrance, one sign and one stormwater-management system.
Botchie said the Town will eventually require that all commercial development include sidewalks, in an effort to make the town more accessible to pedestrians.
The new ordinance also sets up regulations limiting “sidewalk sales,” so that they don't impede pedestrians.
Botchie also said that, although the Giant and Weis supermarkets are “already grandfathered in,” the Town will not allow further large-scale commercial development on Route 26. “That's something I don't think this council or our residents want,” she said.
Mayor Robert Gordon expressed concern about traffic on Route 26 around future commercial development. Gordon used the intersection of Route 26 and Whites Neck Road, where Dollar General sits on the south side of Route 26, as an example of problems than can occur when development happens at busy areas of the road.
“Dollar General was open three days, and they had a T-bone crash outside their door,” he said.
Botchie pointed out that Dollar General has already contributed to an escrow account set up by DelDOT for a potential future traffic light at that intersection.
Town Engineer Andrew Lyons Jr. said turn-lane issues will be addressed by the state Department of Transportation, and the Town can request that the department look into adding turn lanes as development is proposed.
In other business, Lyons said the town park project is almost ready to go to bid. He said some lighting-design issues and some questions on the pickleball courts are all that are standing in the way of the project moving forward.
“We want to get it right the first time,” he said, adding that if bids need to be changed later, that will mean higher costs.
Gordon agreed, saying, “It's been three and a half years since we purchased the property. I would have never thought it would take this long” for the project to get under way, adding, “We've come this far; we want to make sure it's right.”
By Kerin Magill