At a recent meeting, Milford City Council approved a request from Collins Bowers Investments LLC to add an accessory dwelling unit on property located at 304 Lakeview Avenue. The company was requesting turning an existing garage into a single story apartment. Tanner Bowers, who is renovating the historic home on the property, plans to live in the apartment while he completes the renovations.
“One of the requirements to turn an accessory building into an apartment is that either the apartment or the main building must be owner occupied,” Rob Pierce, City Planner, said.
The original home was constructed in the 1880s, according to Milford historian Dave Kenton. There is no information on who constructed the home, but in the 1920s, it was owned by Senator Harry Mulholland who was vice-president of the Mulholland Spoon Company. Senator Mulholland served the first district of Sussex County from 1943 to 1946.
In 1946, the home was sold to Edwin and Frances Fisher who owned and operated Fisher Appliances on Northeast Front Street for many years. Fisher moved to Milford in 1933 and became a prominent member of society. He was a member of the Rotary, serving as president of the organization as well as a Paul Harris Fellow. He was a member of the Milford Memorial Hospital’s board, Wilmington Trust’s advisory board and served on the board of trustees of Avenue United Methodist Church. Fisher was instrumental in starting the United Way in Milford and, in the 1930s, helped reinstate the Chamber of Commerce, serving as its first president. He was also a 50 year member of Temple Lodge 9 AF&AM in Milford. Fisher passed away in 1993.
The home had several owners after the Fishers’ and fell into disrepair. It was recently purchased by Collins Bowers Investments. Several people spoke in favor of allowing the company to construct an apartment on the property.
“I am in favor of granting this change for Tanner,” Tyler Nichols who lives on Kings Highway and whose home faces the property, said. “I’ve seen how much money he has poured into this project and how much he is going to continue to pour into it. We look at this house that sat vacant for many years , so we’re just very grateful that he is pouring money into this and I know that this approval would allow him to pour more into it.” Nichols stated for the record that he was Nichols’ brother-in-law.
Dr. Mallory Alexander who operates a veterinary hospital directly next door to the property wrote a letter in favor of the project. Bowers was required to go before the Board of Variances as the new apartment would be within five feet of Alexander’s property. The board granted the request.
“I do not anticipate any negative consequences as a result of these variances,” Alexander wrote “Tanner has bone above and beyond for this once neglected property and deserves to use the property to its fullest potential. As his direct neighbor, I have had the pleasure of interacting with him frequently as he makes progress rehabbing the home and detached structure. I’m thankful that he chose to invest in this property because it needs to be rehabbed back to its former glory. Tanner has been completely transparent with his plans, and he shows the utmost respect as a neighbor when it comes to any interferences due to construction. As a lifelong Milford resident and a 24 year resident of Lakeview Avenue, I think it’s important to allow young entrepreneurs like Tanner the freedom to make adjustments to these properties to allow them to survive and function in the future.”
Pierce explained that the property would have to be transferred into Bowers’ personal name and not in the name of his LLC in order to meet code requirements. Councilman Jason James asked if there was a time limit for how long the property had to be owner occupied for the accessory dwelling to remain.
“It would have to be forever,” Pierce said. “One of the two units would have to be owner occupied forever or they would have to convert it back to an accessory building.”
Councilman James asked if there was something recorded on the deed that notify future owners of the restriction and Pierce indicated that would be the case.
Council approved the request unanimously. Councilman James commented with his yes vote that this was a project where the addition of another dwelling unit would be beneficial.
“To paraphrase a little bit with Councilman James,” Councilman Mike Boyle said. “This is a classic example of what we hoped to find when this ordinance was passed. It redevelops a neighborhood and provides lower or moderate income housing and basically just improves everybody’s values in that part of town.”
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