On Wednesday, October 12, the City of Milford held an informational meeting at City Hall regarding proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan. The workshop was designed to allow the public to review several zoning changes that if approved will affect the plan. Key Properties Group, LLC is requesting that two parcels of land east of Route 1 be rezoned from low-density residential to commercial. In addition, Bayhealth representatives were on hand to provide information about the new health campus that is being built in the area where these zoning changes are proposed.
There was no formal presentation as the meeting was a workshop only. City Planner Rob Pierce, City Manager Eric Norenberg and Mayor Bryan Shupe were on hand to answer questions about the zoning change. On Tuesday, October 18, the Planning Commission will hold a public hearing at 7 PM where residents can express whether they approve or disapprove of the request. After the hearing, the Planning Commission will vote to make a recommendation to City Council whether the application should be approved. On Monday, October 24, a public hearing will be held for City Council where the public can again express views during public comment. City Council will make the final decision on the zoning request after the hearing.
Many residents turned out to learn more about the request by Key Properties. One parcel is located along Route 1 in front of the Knollac Acres development while the other parcel, which is listed as owned by Mr. Wiggles LLC, runs along Route 1 in front of Bucks Road. Several who turned out for the informational meeting were opposed to the zoning change.
“They are planning to put a strip mall in there, right across from where the new hospital will be,” said Ron Schwarzenbach who lives in Hearthstone Manor. “There are already traffic concerns regarding the new hospital. There will be an access road entrance to the hospital directly across from the entrance to Hearthstone Manor on Wilkins Road. Wilkins Road is only two lanes. The hospital says they plan to make improvements and that the road will be widened to accommodate hospital traffic, but there is only such much room there to widen that road. If you add a strip mall to this area, the traffic congestion will be considerable.”
According to Mike Fannin of Key Properties, no decision has been made regarding what the property will be used for if the zoning request is approved. He and the engineer for Key Properties, Alex Schmidt, said that they have been in talks with several companies about what the land could be used for but have not confirmed any definite plans.
“Right now, we just want to see it zoned commercial,” Mr. Fannin said. “That is our only goal at this point. We would like to enter discussions with DelDOT about possible access to Route 1, but we really can’t do much of anything until we have the zoning question answered.”
Although many that attended the meeting were opposed to the request, several in attendance support the zoning request. Dave Kenton, a commercial real estate agent in Milford, said that he saw the rezoning of the property as a good thing for Milford. “The only way Milford can grow is if we let people make money,” Mr. Kenton said. “Mr. Fannin has some great ideas for how this land could be used, but he needs the zoning change to make that happen. It is important to remember that new businesses mean new jobs for our citizens. I believe that City Council and our Planning Commission have enough sense to make sure this is handled properly and that the land is used the best way possible.”
Another Milford resident, Joe Palermo, who lives in the Meadows at Shawnee, said that he sees the rezoning request as a positive thing for the community. He said it would be beneficial to citizens if they did not have to travel to Dover or Rehoboth to purchase certain items. “I’d love to see a Lowe’s or Home Depot in Milford,” Mr. Palermo said. “I’ve heard others say they wouldn’t mind a department store or a grocery store in that area to provide an easier way for people who live in Southeast Milford to shop. I think it is a good thing, but it has to be done right. Growth is going to happen and progress needs to be made. If the City does this right, this could be very beneficial for this section of the town.”
The City’s Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on October 18 beginning at 7PM and City Council will hold a public hearing on October 24 beginning at 7PM at City Hall to review the amendment.
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