Zoning Approved for New Health Campus

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Screen Shot 2015-10-03 at 10.35.46 AMOn Monday, September 28, Milford City Council gave the final approval to several annexation and zoning requests presented by Bayhealth for their new campus after holding a public hearing on the request. The new hospital is planned at the intersection of Route 30 and Route 1, near the new Wilkins Road overpass.

“These zoning requests and annexations are necessary as part of the planning for the new hospital,” said Rob Pierce, Milford City Planner. “They have already been approved by the Planning Commission.”

Mike Spillane, who owns a home in Hearthstone Manor, a subdivision located across from the proposed new hospital location, was the only member of the public to speak at the public hearing. Mr. Spillane expressed concerns regarding flooding that regularly occurred at the entrance to Hearthstone Manor. He said that he hoped that Bayhealth would work to address this problem.

“We have complained about this problem for quite some time,” Mr. Spillane said. “If there is going to be an entrance to the hospital there, could we finally address the issue?”

Greg Moore, who works for the planning company helping to design the hospital, said that they were not at the engineering stage of the project yet, but that they were aware of flooding on the Bayhealth side of the road. Mr. Moore explained that Bayhealth may not be able to address problems with the road that could lead to flooding nor could they make any changes to Hearthstone Manor’s entrance as it was private property. However, Bayhealth would be addressing flooding on their property that could lead to a resolution for Hearthstone Manor.

“We will be taking steps to direct water away from the Bayhealth property toward natural waterways,” Mr. Moore explained. “By doing this, we may help reduce water collecting at the entrance to Hearthstone as well. However, we will not know that until we get further into the engineering phase of the project.

Councilwoman Katrina Wilson asked that Mayor Bryan Shupe and the planning committee of the hospital keep the flooding issue in mind. She said that it was important to continue making DelDOT aware of the problem so it could be addressed as the new hospital was planned. Mr. Spillane also questioned council about the traffic study used to prepare for the new hospital.

“There was a traffic study done a few years ago for a shopping center that was proposed at that location,” Mr. Spillane said. “If the developers for the hospital are just going to use that study, I am pretty sure we will have much more traffic in the area once the hospital is built.” Mr. Moore explained that the traffic study done for the retail location indicated ten times the traffic than the hospital would generate, but that the planning committee was currently conducting additional traffic impacts in the area in order to avoid issues after the hospital was completed.

Mr. Pierce explained that Duane Fox, Carlisle Fire Company Fire Chief, noted that response time to the hospital for alarms and ambulance calls would increase since the new hospital was located farther away than the current Clarke Avenue location. Mr. Spillane asked if there had been any discussion of adding a police or fire department substation near the hospital to cut down those response times.

“At this time, we have not discussed a substation for police or fire,” said Mayor Shupe. “We will keep it in mind, but we want to see whether it is necessary to put one there or not.” All requests from Bayhealth for annexation and zoning changes were approved unanimously after the public hearing.

In addition to the Bayhealth property, council voted unanimously to accept a USDA grant for $13,000 to conduct a study on the feasibility of tourism in Milford. The cost of the study is $15,000, with the remaining $2,000 coming from the city’s Economic Development fund and will be conducted by graduate students at the University of Delaware Hotel Restaurant Institutional Management school. The study will make recommendations for marketing using data collected by the University of Delaware so that the town can focus their marketing efforts. The students will interview residents, business owners and visitors to the town to learn what drew them to Milford, what types of tourist attractions they would find suitable and how Milford could better tap into the tourism market.

The Downtown Milford Strategic Plan was also discussed at the meeting. Councilman Jamie Burk said that there was a lot of participation and excitement about the plan. Mayor Shupe said that Arnett Muldrow & Associates will return to council with a final report and recommendations on what parts of the plan can be implemented initially so that council can make decisions on what steps to begin taking.

Mayor Shupe suggested that council delay meetings designed to review the City Charter until the new City Manager and Police Chief were on board. Councilman Burk suggested that council take recommendations from city employees as well. Since all changes to the City Charter must be presented to the legislature, it was recommended that council complete the review in time to get it to the legislators before the adjourned for the summer.

In addition, council approved a change in ordinance that made it unlawful to use the city’s electric outlets without permission from the City. The ordinance passed unanimously. Councilwoman Wilson asked that the police start by warning those who are found to be violating the ordinance until information could be provided to the public. Chief of Police, Keith Hudson, said that the police would be cognizant of the fact that this is a new ordinance and allow time for those who use the park regularly to learn of the new regulation.