Council Approves Floodplain, Construction Code Adjustments

Layout of the 2015 Brewfest event approved by City Council.
Layout of the 2015 Brewfest event approved by City Council.

By Terry Rogers

On Monday, January 26, Milford City Council unanimously approved adjustments to the Floodplain Management Ordinance. Changes to that ordinance required the city to revise building construction ordinances as well. Those changes were also unanimously approved.

The changes to the ordinances had been presented to council several times over the past few months, but required tabling so that City Solicitor David Rutt could compare the changes to current floodplain management requirements in Kent and Sussex County.

“The city manager has made some necessary adjustments,” Mr. Rutt explained. “It has been cleared by FEMA and the document is consistent with Kent and Sussex County requirements.” City Manager, Hans Medlarz explained that the city had extensive discussions with FEMA regarding the ordinance and that the federal agency had given final approval to what was before council.

Municipalities must operate a program of corrective and preventative measures in an effort to reduce flood damage should one occur. Floodplain management includes zoning, subdivision and building requirements. According to the Delaware Department of Natural Resources, FEMA began updating floodplain maps in late 2014, requiring all communities in Delaware who participate in the National Flood Insurance Program to adopt the updated floodplain language.

“Because changes to floodplain management affect where and how buildings must be constructed, changes to that ordinance require adjustments in the building code ordinance as well,” Mr. Rutt explained. “We have adjusted the building code language so that it matches that of the floodplain management ordinance.” Copies of the new code are available online at the city website or can be requested from City Hall.

In addition to approving changes to the ordinances, council also approved a request by Dave Kenton, President of Fork Landing LLC, for the city to take over utilities and public streets in the Fork Landing subdivision. Mr. Medlarz explained that this was a routine request as the developer has completed their share of the subdivision and that the city taking over the utilities and streets were a regular step in the process.

The conditional acceptance request asked that the city take over the water distribution system, sewer system, sewer pumping station and all public streets for the subdivision. According to Brad Dennehy, who was the Public Works Director during the development, the water and sewer systems have been operational for some time, both being inspected and approved when the developer received their Beneficial Occupancy certificate. Final paving of streets was recently completed and approved by Tim Web, Street Department Superintendent. The request was approved by council members unanimously.

A request from the organizers of the Brewgrass Festival, scheduled for June, was also approved unanimously. The organizers asked to expand the festival to Memorial Park. The initial request was only for Bicentennial Park, but there was concern about space issues with vendors, bands, beer tents and the number of attendees. In addition, Sara Pletcher, the organizer of the event for Downtown Milford Inc., felt that allowing attendees to cross the bridge into Memorial Park would showcase the Mispillion River more adequately.

“We will follow the ordinance regulations and fence in designated areas on both sides of the river,” Ms. Pletcher said in a letter to council. “Wristbands will be used to identify paying customers versus designated drivers, and security will be placed at the entrances.” The group also requested a second entrance, one in Bicentennial Park and one in Memorial Park. Council approved both requests unanimously.