Millville approves natural gas coming to town

The Millville Town Council has approved a non-exclusive agreement with Chesapeake Utilities Corp. for potential future distribution of natural and mixed gas within the town.

The agreement comes about a year after Chesapeake Utilities representatives first approached Millville officials to present plans for gas lines leading to the town.

Dean Holden, manager of business development for Chesapeake Utilities, told the council and residents at the Tuesday, Sept. 10, town council meeting that the company plans to extend pipeline from Dagsboro to Beebe Healthcare’s new South Coastal Health Campus on Route 17.

The company has wanted to extend pipeline to the area for years, he said, and the new emergency department and cancer center’s desire for gas service made the campus “an anchor customer that helped support that,” Holden said.

In order to move forward, Chesapeake Utilities needed the Town of Millville to sign a franchise agreement with the company.

“It is our long-term hope that this is the first leg of gas expansion that will allow us to serve this portion of eastern Sussex,” Holden said. The company plans to connect pipes in Millville with gas lines in the Lighthouse Lakes development near Selbyville and is currently working with state transportation officials on “road restrictions and construction plans” for that project.

Construction on the pipelines is scheduled to start at the beginning of 2020 and be completed at the end of that year, Holden said. The pipeline would extend north on Route 17 toward Route 26 and the both east and west on Route 26.

The prospect of gas service received enthusiastic response from council members, and questions from those in attendance regarding how to have their individual developments receive natural gas service.

Council Secretary Ronald Belinko said that, in his community of Bishop’s Landing, “Everyone is very excited about the prospect of having natural gas.”

Mayor Steve Maneri said, “I just want to see the town of Millville get gas.”

Resident Valerie Faden said she agreed with Maneri and suggested surveying the residents to gauge interest.

Marshall Gevinson, secretary of the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission, suggested the Town consider sending letters to homeowners’ associations within Millville to inform them of the steps needed to let Chesapeake know of their communities’ interest in receiving natural gas service.

Holden explained that the process can be complicated, and varies between communities based on a number of factors, including location, existing infrastructure and whether the community currently receives propane service.

In other business, the council approved a zoning change for part of developer Millville Town Center’s land in Millville By the Sea from commercial to mixed use. The change encompasses nearly 30 acres just to the south of the Beebe medical campus. The change to mixed-use zoning would allow such things as an assisted-living facility or apartments to be constructed there.

 

By Kerin Magill

Staff Reporter