by Terry Rogers
The Comprehensive Plan for the City of Milford sets forth in graphic and textual form policies that govern physical development of the City in future years. The Delaware Code requires that the Comprehensive Plan be reviewed every five years and that the plan be revised, updated and readopted at least every ten years. The last time the City updated the plan was in 2008 and, starting in early 2017, the Planning Commission began reviewing the plan for the 2018 update. A draft plan was presented to City Council in June 2017 which was then sent to the State Office of Planning for PLUS Review.
“We have held seven public meetings, five public hearings regarding the plan,” City Planner Rob Pierce explained to Milford City Council on Monday, January 22. “We made a detailed presentation to Council back in June with specifics. Since that time, we have submitted the draft plan to the State Planning Office for PLUS Review and have included their comments in your packet as well as the Planning Commission responses. If the Comprehensive Plan is approved by Council tonight, it will go to the State Planning Office for final approval before heading to the Governor for certification. It is important to note that it will not take effect until the Governor certifies the plan.”
During public hearings about the Comprehensive Plan, there was much concern about the property surrounding the current Bayhealth campus on Clarke Avenue. Nationwide Health Services is in the process of purchasing the property and converting it to a long-term healthcare facility. Although many residents living near the complex approved of the new use for the hospital building, there were concerns expressed regarding the ten acres that surround the hospital. Nationwide has expressed a desire to add more residential properties in the area in the form of either apartments or townhouses.
“Currently, the land around the hospital is a hodgepodge of zoning,” Mr. Pierce explained. “A lot of the buildings in the area are homes that have been converted to doctor’s offices. The Planning Commission discussed the possibility of changing the zoning in this area, but decided to leave it as it was. If we receive a request for a change in zoning for one of the properties, we can address it at that time.”
Mr. Pierce explained that the majority of the changes recommended in the Comprehensive Plan were housekeeping issues, which means they are properties that were identified in the 2008 plan that should already have been rezoned but have not been for one reason or another. They could also be properties whose zoning is not contiguous with other zoning in the area. Other changes reflect requests from the owners of the properties.
“We have had some interest from property owners along South Rehoboth Boulevard,” Mr. Pierce said. “We have some non-conforming industrial parcels and, in the 2008 plan, there was a suggestion to make these all commercial. We have carried that request over into this plan to provide more commercial options along that corridor.”
Mr. Pierce explained that there were 41 properties that could be affected by the rezoning recommendations in the Comprehensive Plan. The plan itself will not rezone the properties; the Planning Commission and City Council will be required to change the zones after the adoption of the plan.
City Council approved the 2018 Comprehensive Plan and authorized it to be sent to the State Planning Commission for final approval before being certified by the Governor with a vote of 6 to 0.
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