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November 8, 2002     Cape Gazette
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November 8, 2002
 

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22 - CAPE GAZETTE, Friday, Nov. 8 - Nov. 14, 2002 Hazzard property rezoning hearing adds familiar chapter to saga Milton council to hold special meeting Nov. 21 By Rosanne Pack In Milton Town Council cham- bers it was same song, third or fourth verse as a public bearing convened to discuss a rezoning re- quest for the Hazzard estate prop- erties located at the intersection of routes 16 and 5. By the end of the hearing, it was determined that there will be still another verse. Acting on the ad- vise of James Fuqua, the town's solicitor, council elected to defer a decision on the request rather than vote during the regular monthly meeting that immediately fol- lowed the hearing. A special meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 21, for council members to discuss the request and vote. The meeting is open to thepubfic, but there will be no pu- bic comment. By now, most Milton residents are familiar with the scenario of the 13-acre parcel, formerly the site of a residence and agricultural crop fields. It is now targeted for a shopping center. It was approved for rezuning from agricultural/res- idential to commercial almost 18 months ago; however, the rezon- ing was recently overturned by Chancery Court. In September, the court ruled that the town did not give proper notice of the origi- nal rezoning request and hearing to all property owners within 200 feet of the Hazzard estate. Owners of the property chose to refile a request for rezoning and that led to the Nov. 4 hearing be- fore Milton Town Council. Cases were presented by lawyers for the property owners and for those who brought the successful suit before Chancery Court. Develop- er Mike Zimmerman of BBC Properties Inc., discussed the pre- fiminary site plan for the shopping center, which will be built if the rezoning is approved. Zimmer- man's company has a contract on the 13 acres; the contract is con- tingent on the rezoning. He outlined his plans for Milton Park Center and said he had great- ly revised the preliminary site plan after hearing public comment last year. Area residents and business owners al: sPOke at the heag regarding therezoning, none of them Were unconditionally favor- able,  Most wanted assurance the town would exercise control over the site plan and make the devel- opers adhere to standards of aes- thetics and safety. Stephen Dexter said he is not opposed to the shopping center, but he has concerns about the site design and the precedence it could set. He said if council members approve the rezoning request without knoWing they have the ability to control the site plan, they will do a disservice to the town. "This will not be the last [devel- opment] on Route 16," he said. 'q'here will be more and more. I am not against it, I just want to see it done fight." Dexter fives across the intersection west of the Haz- zard property. Ed Harris is a Milton resident and owner of a business on the south side of the intersection of routes 16 and 5. He was original- ly in favor of the rezoning request because he feels Milton needs shopping options. However, he now has question s regarding sites of some of Zimmerman's projects in other communities. "He told me a year-and-a-half ago that he was going to tend to some site issues at his Long Neck shopping center," Harris said. 'q'he problems have not been cor- rected. If you approve this re- quest, you will have the same situ- ation here as they have in Long Neck." Harris said Zimmerman has not shown an inclination to design and install buffering, sufficient screening landscaping and a water retention system that is safe and sufficient and in keeping with the image that Milton needs to proj- ect. "I have this question for [court- P /z o ,.q /t cz p /c e o I P.O. 8ox $2 R.hobo.t.h 8ar..h, P[ 19971 cil]," he said. "Will you or will you not be able to control the landscaping and water runoff?." Architect James Clark read a letter he previously submitted to council members. In the letter, he expressed the opinion that a cen- ter of the scale proposed by Zim- merman is not compatible with Milton and will sap life from the downtown area. He stated con- cerns regarding whether the area can sustain stores stich as a Food Lion and Happy Harry's that need a high volume of customer traffic to be profitable. Clark said the stores could very well be unsuccessful and leave vacant buildings on the main en- trance into Milton. He is in favor of developing smaller stores more central to downtown and limiting large stores, such as Food Lion, that depend on large signs and heavily trafficked areas for neces- sary business. Michael Malkiewicz, attorney for Robert and Beverly White and the Friends of Milton, argued the successful case before Chancery Court that overturned the May 2001 rezoning. Addressing the councilbearing, he pointed out that the town's comprehensive plan, much quoted by those in fa- vor of rezoning and a shopping center, is just that, a plan and not a law. The plan recommends an- nexation and commercial devel- opment along the east-west corri- dor of Route 16. Malkiewicz said the proposed shopping center raises historic compatibility issues and issues of trash and intrusive lighting. He also referred to the lack of progress on updating and revising zoning laws in Milton that others introduced at the hearing. "We heard, 'We need to update the ordinances.' A year and a half has gone by," the attorney said. "If you approve this [rezoning re- quest], it is a green light [for de- velopment] with no enforce- menU' His reference to the passage of a year-and-a-half since Milton offi- cials pledged to update zoning or- dinances was a recurring theme as members of the public urged cau- tion in acting on the rezoning re- quest. It was the stated reason that the Milton Planning and Zon- ing Commission recommended against approval of the request in 2001, and it was the reason Coun- cilman Bob Blayney gave for vot- ing against the request in May 2001. Speaking for owners of the Hazzard properties, attorney Dean Campbell quoted from the town's comprehensive plan, which rec- ommends high quality commer- cial development in the vicinity of the intersection of routes 16 and 5. The plan refers to the area as be- ing surrounded by commercial de- velopment. Campbell also point- ed out that the rezoning is in keep- ing with the Sussex County land- use plan. He said his clients had resol,ced most of the concerns raised by area residents and town officials, including withdrawing plans for housing units located on the north end of the parcel and revising the site plan. He said the project has received permit approvals regard- ing traffic control, fire protection, storm water management and a potable water system. The hearing closed with council deciding to defer action on the re- zoning request until the special meeting, Nov. 21. In the regular council meeting, John Collier was named chairman of the newly formed Milton Board of Adjustment. Other members of the board are Marian Jones and Larry Savage. Jim Parker was granted an exclusion for a side- walk along the west side of a par- cel where he will build a car wash. An existing building extends to the property line and roadway and a sidewalk would encroach on the bordering county road, Route 22B. Dates were announced for the Milton Christmas Parade, Wednesday, Dec. 4, and the Annu- al Holly Festival and Christmas house tour, Saturday, Dec. 14. Fine Oceanfront Dining at the Boardwalk Plaza Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner (7 days) Sunday Brunch ~ Plaza Pub Lounge : 22 7-0615 Ave. & the Boardwalk ~ Rehoboth Beach, DE 199;