The Town of Millville’s latest update to its comprehensive plan — its blueprint for growth and development — took another step forward on Tuesday, Feb. 26 as the committee shepherding it met to fine tune some of its language.
Debbie Pfeil, planning consultant for KCI Technologies, which is leading the Town through its comprehensive plan update, walked the committee through the I’s that need to be dotted and the T’s that need to be crossed before the plan can be finalized.
The next step in the process, Pfeil said, will be for the plan to be presented to the town council. After that, it will be presented to Sussex County officials “to see if there are any conflicts with the County” as far as plans for the town’s development, she said. That will lead to the plan being submitted to state officials around the first week in April, according to Pfeil.
Adoption of the final plan by the town council should happen in June, she said.
Comprehensive Plan Committee Member Sally Griffin brought up some concerns about how Millville will attempt to address environmental concerns in the future. Pfeil said there are state studies currently under way that could result in changes in “best management practices” in several areas, including how to improve drainage. Those studies, she said, could benefit Millville in the future.
Pfeil said that, for example, “10 years ago, 15 years ago, people weren’t doing alternative methods” of paving surfaces, “everything was concrete and asphalt.” She said standards can be put in place for developers to follow, and that ultimately “that is really driven, when you say ‘What do the property owners want?’ It’s really driven by what the developer is going to offer for the people he wants to sell houses to.
“Every development is a little bit different,” Pfeil continued, “and the Town figures out how much of that they want to regulate.”
Committee Member and Town Code Enforcement Officer Eric Evans pointed out that the Town had already begun addressing those issues when it changed regulations regarding patios last year.
Town Manager Debbie Botchie said, “That’s also something that I have in mind for the new Planning & Zoning Commission to do more research on, for ordinances.”
Pfeil also told the committee that even the word “environmental” is up for interpretation in today’s planning circles.
Griffin also said she would like to see language in the plan that helps protect wild animals in the town.
“Wildlife corridors would be very nice,” she said.
Evans said he is concerned that such language could lead to the Town getting calls from residents with raccoons in their back yards. “What do you want me to do?” he asked in the hypothetic situation. “OK, I’ll come by and chase it out.”
Resident Valerie Faden concurred that environmental issues should be addressed in the plan, covering such topics as buffers, incentives for the use of renewable energy and sustainable development.
By Kerin Magill