Millville council approves comp plan update

The Millville Town Council recently approved, by unanimous vote, the 2019 update to the Town’s comprehensive plan — the blueprint municipalities use for development and related issues.

The final draft of the plan is essentially identical to the document that was introduced during the summer by Deborah Pfeil of KCI Technologies, the Town’s consultant on the comprehensive plan.

Pfeil told the council at its Oct. 8 meeting that the state planning office is now requiring towns to consider affordable housing as part of their comprehensive plans.

“I understand the intent,” Pfeil said, which is that towns consider whether there is adequate workforce housing within their boundaries — meaning housing that is affordable for those who are staffing businesses in the area.

“It is troubling that this item is a certification issue,” Pfeil said. “It’s assumed that the town does not take a stand on affordable housing” if the notations are not in the comprehensive plans, she said.

Although Millville doesn’t technically meet the population threshold the State is using for the new requirement — 2,000 residents — Pfeil said two goals would be added to the plan to address affordable housing.

“The Town will continue to support a variety of housing types where people of all income types and ages should be able to afford quality housing,” Pfeil told the council of the first goal. The second is that “the Town will continue to work with developers and nonprofit organizations and the [Delaware State Housing Authority] to support housing for all income levels.”

Pfeil emphasized to the council that the State is “not asking any municipalities to regulate rent, type of housing style and sales price. That’s market-driven,” she said.

“The statewide position is that there’s less affordable housing” than is needed for the state’s workforce, Pfeil said.

Mayor Steve Maneri asked Pfeil what the State’s outlook is on traffic that any construction of multi-family housing would bring to the area.

“That’s a lot of traffic being put on this road,” he said, referring to Route 26.

Pfeil said she had recently attended the state Department of Transportation’s capital improvements plan meeting — where transportation officials outlined “what they want to do in the next 10 to 15 years — and I can tell you they’re all about roundabouts.”

She said that while the town would approve any new development, it could only be built if adequate sewer and water service were available, and neither of those services is controlled by the town. The same is true of entrance and exit permits for the State-controlled roadways, which are provided by DelDOT.

“It’s got to work hand-in-hand,” she said.

Council Member Sharon Brienza commended Pfeil for her work on the document, as did Council Member Ronald Belinko.

“It’s naturally a very comprehensive report,” he said.

The council voted to approve the plan pending approval by the state planning office. The comprehensive plan can be read on the Town’s website, at www.millville.delaware.gov.

In other business, the council authorized the release of $49,500 to the Millville Volunteer Fire Company from the Town’s $500 impact fee on new construction.

“We are really fortunate to have the fire department located in our town,” Belinko said. “The services are outstanding.”

The council will meet next on Tuesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., for its monthly workshop.

By Kerin Magill
Staff Reporter