Millville gets first look at Home Depot

Growth in Millville continues apace, and commercial neighbors will soon accompany the proposed master-planned communities (MPCs) south of Route 26.

Millville Town Council reviewed conceptual plans for a 102,000-square-foot Home Depot at the March 8 council meeting.

The store would be located adjacent to Route 17, midway between Route 26 and Burbage Road.

The project will take up a little more than half of a large commercial parcel immediately to the north of the Townsend Acres development. No plans for the rest of the parcel have materialized as of yet.

Traffic will funnel into the Home Depot parking lot from a new road that will also serve the future residents of the Dove Landing developments (behind the store, to someone standing on Route 17).

The main entrance to the store will actually face the new road. A 28,000-square-foot garden center, near the southern border of the parcel, will be the structure closest to Route 17 — that, and a trash compactor.

Council Member Tim Droney expressed reservations. “You’ve put the compactor and the loading zone (for the garden center) close to Route 17,” he noted. “Are you going to block that?”

Engineer Randy Duplechain of Davis, Bowen & Friedel (DBF) said the store would be at a minimum 60 feet from the property line (further, in most areas), and they would indeed install landscaping buffers.

Council Member Gerry Hocker asked about the possibility of a fence “behind” the store, to the south.

However, according to Duplechain, there was a tax ditch between the proposed building site and Townsend Acres, and they would need to provide access for periodic maintenance work.

Mayor Gary Willey raised questions about the possibility of storage containers or parked tractor-trailers behind the store.

Home Depot representative Tom Gallagher assured him, but added, “The only exception would be pallets.

“Typically, we’ll have a truck out there and when we get that one loaded up with pallets, we’ll haul it out and bring in another one,” he said.

Other than that, Gallagher estimated total truck traffic at 10 to 15 (deliveries) per day, which he said was less than what most supermarkets experienced.

Council Member Cliff Toomey asked him if he’d had any discussion with neighboring Townsend Acres residents.

Gallagher said he had not. “This is still a very preliminary plan, at this point,” he noted.

Toomey also asked about hours of operation and open space. Newly-appointed Council Member Richard Thomas asked about additional water storage (a tank to increase pressure for fire suppression).

Duplechain agreed they would be putting in a 24-foot-high tank, but hadn’t decided where yet.

Council also discussed parking, considering a possible variance that would allow Home Depot to go with 9- by 19-foot parking spaces rather than the town’s 10- by 20-foot standard.

However, as Willey pointed out, the town had held Food Lion, and the new Millville Town Center project across the street, to that standard.

He directed Duplechain to reconfigure the lot based on those dimensions.

Droney anticipated public opposition to the project, and council asked the developers to consider hosting workshops once they had revised the conceptual plans.

Gallagher expressed a willingness to put out feelers himself. He asked council if they could provide him with some contact numbers for residents of Townsend Acres and neighbors living opposite the project, on Route 17.

In other business, council discussed a pair of issues related to the MPCs and took another look at materials storage on the lot behind the Millville Service Center (Whites Neck Road).

Millville Volunteer Fire Department President Greg Tietmeyer said firefighters had major problems with the proposed traffic circles on Route 17.

According to Willey, Gulfstream Vice-President Mark Zduriencik had characterized Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) officials’ reaction as “ecstatic.”

However, as Tietmeyer stated, “We are not.” He predicted problems associated with the speed limit reductions in the circles (from 50 mph to 25 mph) and difficult maneuvering.

Tietmeyer also sounded off on the location of the planned fire station.

“It’s nowhere near where we need it to be,” he stated. He said the fire company had requested a location near Route 17 and Burbage, closer to the planned communities.

The proposed fire station would be too far from responders’ homes, he said, and near power lines that could interfere with firefighters’ radios, Tietmeyer pointed out.

He said they had requested one-and-a-half acres for the facility and received one acre.

“I realize this is valuable real estate, but out of this many houses, that’s not a lot of land,” Tietmeyer stated.

Council also considered Kay McGee’s request to remove four one-acre parcels from the MPC zoning district, and return them to residential zoning.

According to Willey, McGee wanted to set aside the land as home sites for her children.

In response to complaints about materials storage, council asked property owner Russell Banks about increased activity behind the Millville Service Center.

Willey noted that he’d called Banks several days earlier, and he’d put up a silt fence since then. However, questions remained regarding blowing dust and dirt, and the effect on neighboring property values.

Banks assured everyone the situation was temporary.

Council also adopted the International Residential Code (IRC) and International Building Code (IBC) to follow along with the county, and made a few donations.
• $5,000 to the Millville Volunteer Fire Company
• $1,000 to the Ocean View Leisure (CHEER) Center construction project
• $120 for signs in Denton Mills, to notify motorists that a deaf child lived nearby.

Millville Town Council has returned to full strength, following Thomas’ formal swearing-in on March 8.

Thomas fills the seat left vacant following Council Member Bob Lee’s passing in 2004.