Several people have asked the town of Millsboro about the possibility of voting by mail in future city council elections. But board members didn’t show much interest in the suggestion at their September 8 monthly meeting.
“Personally, I’m not a fan. I prefer that we maintain the status quo, ”said City Manager Sheldon Hudson when addressing the subject.
The city’s charter already provides a route to mail-in voting, but council is expected to pass an ordinance to implement an out-of-office process “for any qualified voter to vote by mail if that person is unable to come forward and vote”.
In the end, no one brought forward a motion to consider the idea further or put it to a vote.
Councilman Larry Gum said a mail-in voting process could make things more difficult to manage.
“People aren’t staying home,” which means they can vote in person, Gum suggested.
“We think a lot of this is probably COVID-related, but I’m trying to bring to council what I’m hearing in the community, and then we can make a decision together as a team,” Mayor Michelle said afterwards. Truitt.
In the June elections in Millsboro, like most towns in the region’s interior, voters must be a resident of the town, not just a property owner.
Truitt was asked how someone would vote if they were elderly or housebound.
“We had several and we were helping them. I was here in the elections. … The City has a lot of staff that we can help. It was really spaced out, and there were a lot of safety precautions taken.
If someone is away for college or deployed for military service, how do they vote?
“They should be back here doing this,” Truitt said. “We can always review that…adjust it and bring it back. And we often do, revisit.
There was not a full list of council members present on September 8. Truitt, Vice Mayor Tim Hodges, John Thoroughgood and Gum were just enough for a quorum. Absent from the discussion were Councilors Bradley Cordrey, James Kells and Ron O’Neal.
Plantation Lakes shows complete layout plan
Since the meeting was held in the Millsboro boardroom, rather than their usual rooms (with a telephone option for the public), there was room on September 8 for the board to spread out and shows some Plantation Lakes highlights.
As part of the terms of their final site plan, Plantation Lakes developers have submitted the comprehensive master plan for the 2,495-unit housing development west of Highway 113. This includes a 550-foot pedestrian bridge at the above Betts Pond, 6.5 miles of walking trails, outdoor pool and children’s fountain, picnic areas and gazebo, 18-hole Arthur Hills golf course, 22,500 square foot The Landing clubhouse and pro shop , restaurant, driving range and various training areas, several community centers, outdoor tennis, pickleball, volleyball, basketball and table tennis. There will be an 11.2-acre public park dedicated to the town of Millsboro, with amenities to be determined.
“It’s very, very important to the City that we appeal to all demographic ages. … We want to make sure families are welcome. … Thanks for hearing that,” Hudson said, adding that he hopes Millsboro stands out from its seaside neighbors with this all-ages accent.
Although the town’s attorney stated that the town’s role in the plan was to recognize that the presentation is acceptable and meets the conditions of the permit, the council still made sure to include its pleasure in the vote.
Council also approved the final site plan for “Section D,” located on the north side of Betts Pond, with 30-foot-wide “villas” or townhouses and 40-foot-wide single-family homes. Some will jut out into a cul-de-sac, surrounded by a 50-foot buffer from the water’s edge. The developers have stated that this property is not in the FEMA floodplain.
Council also approved the final site plan for the West Community Centre.
Halloween and Christmas
After some debate, the city council agreed to schedule the Millsboro Sleight of Hand Tour on Saturday, Oct. 31, from 6 to 8 p.m., for ages 12 and under.
The police department has been given permission to hold its annual Halloween event, but will only proceed if it can adhere to safety guidelines for the public and staff. That could mean a drive-through event instead.
The motion passed by a majority of those present, 3 to 1, with Thoroughgood dissenting, who said he preferred only the trick or treat.
Hudson and the council have expressed interest in trying to organize a public Christmas event, acknowledging that it could be very different from the usual. A parade could be difficult, as events of 250 or more people require state approval, and schools are not hosting marching bands at this time.
“I’ve been to some events where the state has come forward and said, ‘You’re not following social distancing and guest guidance,'” Gum said. “All it takes is one person to complain and they’re mandated to come forward.”
Millsboro police would not have time to enforce mask-wearing or social distancing on city streets because they would be busy with traffic control, police chief Brian Calloway said.
Calloway suggested tree lighting where people can sit in their cars and possibly play music through the radio.
“I’d rather the City keep everything we can, than cancel everything we have on the agenda,” Hodges said.
If an event occurs, it would be Saturday, December 5. City staff said they will assess the situation and report back next month. They also expect the governor’s office to issue guidelines on holiday events.
“We could come back next month and say it’s not viable,” Hudson concluded.
In other Millsboro City Council news:
• The repaving of the railway line will result in the complete closure of the main road through the city for approximately 11 days, from October 1 to 12 (depending on the weather). Construction will take place near the split of Washington Street, between Railroad Avenue and Monroe Street. The city, state, and railroad all stand to benefit from improvements to the surrounding tracks, roadway, and sidewalks. The board has discussed logistics and will likely need support from adjacent owners.
• The Millsboro Police Department is currently recruiting for an officer position. Two new recruits will also enter the police academy on October 4: Cody Justice and Cody Jackson. Due to COVID-19, the Delaware State Police is focused on training its own recruits, so the Dover Police Department has invited other municipalities to attend its first academy in 28 years, Calloway said.
• The demolition of Warren’s Mill could be much more expensive than expected. Indeed, it would be cheaper for a thunderstorm to bring it down, the council noted.
“I know some of us have an emotional attachment to the factory. I think we should consider donating – take what we want out of it and divest from it,” said Hudson, who said he felt the reasons for rebuilding the monument were evaporating.
With estimates of approximately $200,000 for demolition and traffic control in a tight space, the city will discuss with the Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) cost-effective alternatives.
• The City is in talks to eventually sell water to a distributor for properties east of town, across the river and along Highway 24 — especially those affected by contamination of wells that can be linked to the wastewater treatment system of the Mountaire poultry plant. The council was interested in proceeding if (regarding who holds the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, or CPCN, they can also protect the city’s ability to potentially develop or annex these areas one day.
• The new dog park near City Hall will remain a City-sponsored entity.
“We want to make sure it stays open and free for everyone,” Truitt said, rather than inviting a 501(c)(3) organization to run it.
• Alderleaf Meadows has finally received final site plan approval for approximately 150 single family homes behind Millsboro Town Square (the Food Lion Mall). Both entrances will be completed during Phase I of construction. City officials noted that they are not responsible for sidewalks, so the City is not responsible for any damages caused if they need to access the water main under the walkways.
• An event permit was issued for a “March for America” parade on September 26 at Cupola Park in support of the police. No road closures are planned at this time, although planning is still in its early stages.
• No bids were received for the Main Street sidewalk project. Some general contractors said the project was not big enough and others were too busy. After lengthy discussions on the option, the City will officially call for bids again.
The next Millsboro City Council meeting will be Monday, October 5 at 7 p.m.