Millville gets positive audit report, MBS update

The Millville Town Council this week approved a positive report from the Town’s audit for the 2013 fiscal year. At the Dec. 10 council meeting, Herb Geary from the TGM Group congratulated the Town on a very good year.

“We feel very good about your team. … We like being here. It’s refreshing. We like how positive the statements are,” said Geary. Even when the accountants have suggestions, he said, “Your folks are all ears.”

The rest of the Dec. 10 meeting focus on development issues.

Millville Town Center LLC has requested to construct a secondary access road, in accordance with the revised plan for Sub-phase 2C-2 in Millville by the Sea.

“Hopefully, a fairly straightforward request. … When the lifestyle center was first approved, we discussed secondary access road” for emergencies, or if the main entrance is blocked, said Chuck Ellison of Miller & Smith. However, the initial design cut across lots of land before hitting a side road.

Now, developers are suggesting an alternate route that only cuts across one lot, at a fraction of the original length.

Ellison said Delaware Department of Transportation officials “thought it was a great idea” and granted a “temporary access” permit because the road will only be used when needed.

Councilmember Harry Kent said he, too, was pleased with the idea, but that he was concerned with language in the DelDOT permit. While it seemed standard that construction must be completed in one year, there was also language suggesting that temporary access itself would end in one year (August of 2014).

“I want to be assured … they don’t suddenly tell you to shut it up and you don’t have emergency access,” said Kent, concerned that, legally, DelDOT could forbid access. “It seems … there is some gray area here. My experience with those folks is I don’t like gray areas.”

“There is some language to support that [construction] needs to be completed in that year, instead of use of the entrance expiring,” said Seth Thompson, town solicitor.

“We can go back for clarification,” said Ellison, but according to past discussions, he said, DelDOT understood the plans for the roads future use.

Otherwise, the plans were deemed to have satisfied all other town council concerns.

Citizen Richard Shoobridge told the council that he was concerned about the discussion of an alternate road, when he thought the original plan was “for Sand Dollar Village to have safe access to the community center. You’re going to be scraping people off the road,” he warned, “because there is no access, … no shoulders.”

Ellison clarified that the entire plan has two parts: the temporary bike trail, which is still on the plan, plus emergency access, which needed to be revised and approved.

The council unanimously approved the access project, on the condition that only the DelDOT construction permit — not approval of the actual use of the road — expires in one year.

Ellison also provided to the council an overall update on Millville by the Sea. He brought photos of construction at the lifestyle center, clubhouse and wellness building at Burbage and Substation roads. Interior designers will arrive in mid-February to finish the buildings.

Because the project is so complex, Miller & Smith interviewed contractors nationwide, leading to the choice of interior designers from Denver, Colo., architects from Iowa and colorists from California.

Soon, a pavilion and Roxana Road tree buffer will spring up.

Ellison also showed proposed changes to the Lakeside Village neighborhood, which the Millville Planning & Zoning Commission is expected to review in January.

Town Manager Debbie Botchie agreed with Ellison that master-plan meetings between the Town and developer have been helpful.

“We’re pleased with the way it’s going,” said Ellison, inviting council members to visit the site.

The council on Dec. 10 also unanimously approved (with Councilman Harry Kent abstaining for possible conflict of interest) the Coventry development’s request to extend one of the community’s streets by 300 feet and open up 10 lots, according to the Town-approved plans. Of 76 lots approved for development there, 38 have been sold and settled.

The extension now will be followed next year by roadwork required by DelDOT along Substation Road, which includes stormwater management, pipes, swales, grading and filling in a ditch, all for “offsite water from across the street,” said Bob Harris, manager of Gulfstream Development and Tyre Farm, which owns the Coventry development.

Discussion of a possible three-year extension of the Dove Landing community’s approved final site plans was tabled, due to weather concerns.

Finally, Linda Kent reported that the Millville Volunteer Group has a handful of prospective volunteers to train.

The next regular Millville Town Council meeting will be Jan. 14, 2014.

P&Z approves Dickens expansion

Dickens Parlour Theatre will be seeking approval from the Millville Town Council next month for a 1,600-square-foot addition, after the Planning & Zoning Commission gave its approval for the plan Dec. 9.

The P&Z had previously reviewed plans for a two-story building designed to increase downstairs storage and add an upstairs dressing room at the venue. It would connect to the theater’s west side by an adjacent staircase and overhang. Seating at the theater would not be affected.

Rick Haden of McCarthy Homes brought to the Dec. 9 meeting an updated site plan and design standards for the accessory building. Haden said the expanded storage and preparation space will help the theater bring more world-class talent to town.

Theater owner Rich Bloch just needed to add a few more exterior design elements from the required list, which could be as simple as a canopy and planters, said P&Z’s Bob Linett.

These might not be very visible, Haden said, since the theater structure is blocked from the road by the venue’s gathering hall.

The revised plan showed two extra parking spots, but one less handicapped-accessible space than before, pointed out Commissioner Jim Koozer. Code & Building Administrator Eric Evans agreed to review whether one or two spaces are required.

Planning & Zoning commissioners unanimously approved the site plan, on the conditions that the extra design features and parking spaces are correctly shown in the final plans the come before the council.

The next Planning & Zoning meeting is tentatively rescheduled for Jan. 21, 2014, at 7 p.m.