Millville council discusses park, patios and permits

Date Published: 
Jan. 19, 2018

Millville’s town park has been stuck in neutral for months.

After purchasing the land in autumn of 2015, the town council approved design plans and purchase of playground equipment a year later. But Millville can’t start digging until government groups give final approval.

First, it took months to get entrance permits from Delaware Department of Transportation. And, currently, Millville’s application is with the Sussex County Conservation District, which has 30 days to grant approval or request more information. The soil conservation district has already requested more information once, and town officials are holding their breath to secure that approval in the next 30 days.

“Other than that, the building has been designed — everything has been designed. The next step is going to bid,” said Town Manager Debbie Botchie.

The Town would pick a contractor, then build, then get fire marshal approval.

“It’s been very heartbreaking for all of us. The residents — we geared them up so much for this, and we haven’t put a shovel in the ground,” Botchie said. “Our engineers, GMB, they’re already doing all they can on their end, even starting the bid packet and all that — just need these approvals so we can move forward. It wouldn’t take us long to get ready to bid.”

Permits for patios and pavers

Stormwater concerns pushed the council at their Jan. 9 meeting to require permits for people installing patios, decks and the less-permanent paver patios.

Although paver patios are intended for installation over sand or another pervious surface, some people install them in a permanent manner that promotes flooding and stormwater problems, officials noted. Residents need to be responsible for stormwater runoff when they install any structure, said Code & Building Official Eric Evans.

“We don’t want them to go out so far that now they have no way of capturing water on their property.”

So now, just like porches, concrete patios and decks may only encroach 5 feet into the property’s setback. Similarly, patios that are not part of a building can only extend up to 5 feet into the front- and rear-yard setback area.

After hearing public concerns in December, the council agreed that paver patios may encroach halfway into the rear-yard setback no more than half the distance between the setback and the property line.

During the Jan. 9 meeting, they also clarified language elsewhere in the code.

A new definition of “structures” will include decks and pavers, but “for purposes of setbacks, structures do not include driveways, front yard sidewalks or front yard pathways less than five feet in width.”

In other Millville news:

• Upon receiving a complaint about littering in Millville, Mayor Bob Gordon said town officials will run that complaint “up the chain” to state legislators and “see what we can do.” In fact, the legislature has created a Delaware Anti-Dumping & Anti-Littering Task Force, which is meeting regularly to write a statewide report by April. Council members suggested various remedies, such as installing anti-littering signage, hosting community trash pick-up days or photographing the offending parties.

• After Winter Storm Grayson dumped about a foot of snow on coastal Delaware in the midst of a temperatures approaching single digits, Councilman Steve Maneri thanked the Millville Volunteer Fire Company for being staffed on a 24-basis to respond to emergencies.

“They had a busy five days,” said Gordon.

“And they helped a lot of people in need,” said Botchie.

• A closed executive session was also scheduled for Jan. 9, but there were no public votes, Botchie said. The private meeting was a legal strategy session as the Town considers possible litigation.

The Millville Town Council meets on Tuesdays at 7 p.m., with a workshop scheduled for Jan. 23 and their next regular meeting on Feb. 13.