Council Approves Zoning Changes, Land Transfers

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m2By Terry Rogers

On Monday, January 25, 2016, Milford City Council held several public hearings regarding zoning changes, subdivision requests and land transfers. The public hearings are required under city code in order to obtain public input before a decision is made related to the changes.

The first two public hearings were held regarding land owned by First State Manufacturing that is currently being used by the Milford Little League. In July 2014, the city and First State Manufacturing, operating as Grow USA, approved an exchange of lands. The land that is currently being used by Little League would be transferred to the city and First State Manufacturing would accept land in Independence Commons on Airport Road.

“Little League has full use of this land now,” said Councilman Owen Brooks. “Once this settlement is done, it will be used for Little League, correct?” Bob Nash, the engineer for the project, said that once the settlement is complete, the city will own the property fee simple and they can appropriate the land for whatever use they want. Mr. Nash explained that the transfer reduced liability for First State Manufacturing as the public has been using the land and would allow them to expand their company by adding a building in Independence Commons. There were no public comments and council approved the exchange of lands with a vote of five to zero with Councilpersons Doug Morrow, Katrina Wilson and James Starling absent.

The next public hearing was related to the land and former Milford Middle School building on Lakeview Avenue. Currently, the land and building are in the name of the State of Delaware and Milford School District. Milford School District was requesting to subdivide the land into two parcels, one containing the building and the other to be park land. This would allow the district to sell only the building while leaving the athletic fields intact.

“I have been approached by some of my constituents about what type of restrictions would be placed on this change,” Councilman Jamie Burk asked. “If this is approved, it will be zoned R-1, which means a house could be placed on that land should the district decide to sell it in the future.” City Solicitor David Rutt informed council that they could not place any type of restriction on the land owner as to what they could do with their land. He explained that the district could add deed restrictions if they did choose to sell it in the future that would prohibit building, but that council could not restrict its use.

Dr. Phyllis Kohel, Superintendent, said that the sole reason they were asking for the subdivision was to protect the land and maintain it for public use.

“If the land is sold, the state could take all the property, including the fields,” Dr. Kohel said. “There will be no need for deed restrictions as the new parcel of land will be in the name of Milford School District only. The district has absolutely no intention of using this as anything but a recreation area. Our students use the fields and even if a new school is built elsewhere, we will still use those fields for our athletic programs.” There were no comments from the public and council approved the request with a vote of five to zero.

The council then heard a request from Crop Production Services LLC who were asking for a zoning change from R3 to I2 for a parcel of land near Baltimore Air Coil. The land was initially approved for a townhouse/apartment subdivision called Amberwood, but it has been determined that the land would be better utilized for industrial businesses. Crop Production Services plans to construct a fertilizer sales and storage facility on the land, located on Holly Hill Road. According to Greg Moore of the Baker Morgan Group, who is engineering the project, Crop Production Services is already an established business in Milford who feels the lands location would benefit their company as well as Baltimore Air Coil.

“The land is adjacent to rail, which is another benefit to both Baltimore Air Coil and Crop Production Services,” Mr. Moore said. “This area requires that we adhere to source water regulations and that we submit a conditional site plan for review. The project meets all impervious coverage restrictions required to be sure that the applicant makes minimal impact on the land.” Mr. Moore explained that the water restrictions were put forth by DNREC in order to protect drinking water wells. He said that there are no dangers of this project impacting any wells and that Baltimore Air Coil has had to meet the same restrictions since they have been in operation. As far as he was aware, there had been no issues with that company and there would be none with Crop Production Services. There were no comments from the public and council approved the request with a vote of five to zero.

A request from Mispillion Realty to change the zoning of property located adjacent to Brookstone Trace to R3 was also approved by council. The final public hearing of the evening was regarding the former M&T Bank building on Northwest Front Street and its parking lot. M&T Bank requested that the property be divided so that the building was considered one parcel and the parking lots combined into one parcel that was separate from the building.

“We simply want to clean up the parcels and create two deeds for the new owners, whoever they may be,” Steven Warren of M&T Bank said. The request was approved with a vote of five to zero.