City Council approves change of zone request

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The former office of Dr. William Kaplan, located at 302 Polk Avenue, has been rezoned as residential

On May 24, Milford City Council approved a request to return zoning of a building on 302 Polk Avenue to residential at the request of the owner. The property had been rezoned commercial at the owner’s request in 2019 as they anticipated selling the home for office space. The property was originally a single-family home converted to a medical office and used by Dr. William Kaplan.

“We requested that the zoning be changed two years ago due to the move of Bayhealth to their new campus and the opening of Milford Wellness Village in the Clarke Avenue building,” Deborah Kaplan, wife of Dr. Kaplan, said. “We were hoping to get a low-density business to come in and purchase the property. Unfortunately, we had 87 showings of the house and 86 of them were looking for residential property. The one commercial use was for an attorney’s office. My realtor is very much concerned that if we don’t rezone the property to there will be problems securing a mortgage.”

Kaplan stated that a contract had been placed on the property, but the purchaser was unable to get financing since the property was zoned commercial. The purchaser planned to refert the building back into a residential property. Councilman Todd Culotta pointed out that it was unusual for council to be asked to rezone a property as residential once it had been changed to commercial, asking if there was no flexibility in the commercial zone to allow for someone to put a house on that location.

“Banks are hesitant to finance commercial property for residential use,” David Rutt, City Solicitor said. “We see this in our practice all the time. They are assessed under two types of analysis and have seen that a commercial property almost never gets approved for a residential loan.”

Rob Pierce, City Planner, explained that the commercial category used for the Polk Avenue structure did not have a provision for residences. He stated that if the property remained residential, the owners could use the building for a home occupation, but it would not be a full-fledged medical office again.

“I completely understand why you got so many inquiries for residential use,” Councilwoman Katrina Wilson said. “We need housing in Milford.”

The zoning change passed with a vote of seven to zero as Councilman Mike Boyle was not present.

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