Milton Planning and Zoning Commission will begin forming an advisory opinion on the rezoning of a 26-acre parcel on Route 16, but deliberations will literally be phoned in.
The town will begin holding virtual meetings via telephone and video conference, starting with the commission’s 2 p.m., Thursday, April 9 meeting.
Municipalities may conduct meetings via teleconferencing after Gov. John Carney issued a proclamation allowing the practice, provided members of the board or commission conducting the meeting can all participate and identify themselves when they speak, and members of the public are allowed to listen in. Meetings must also be publicly noticed and include information for public participation.
Under normal circumstances, teleconferencing is limited by Freedom of Information Act requirements, but these are not normal circumstances, as people shelter-in-place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Carney’s state of emergency declaration limits public gatherings to 10 people and shut down nonessential businesses.
Milton officials were not able to find a venue for town meetings, as the usual location, Milton library, has closed, as has the alternative venue, Milton Theatre. The fire hall is still under construction. Lack of space for social distancing and handicapped access prevent meetings from being held at Town Hall, and meetings cannot be held outside town limits. Milton had to cancel its April 6 Town Council meeting for lack of a venue.
Since Carney’s proclamation allowing municipalities to hold virtual meetings, planning and zoning will be the first in Milton to give it a try. The commission will begin discussing its advisory opinion on rezoning six parcels, totaling 26.45 acres, at the intersection of Route 16 and Country Road, across the road from Po’ Boys restaurant.
Applicant Milton Attainable Housing LLC is seeking to build a mixed-use development with 239 residential rental units and six pad sites for commercial businesses. Milton Attainable Housing, a joint project from developer Preston Schell and Rehoboth Beach restaurateur Eric Sugrue, is working on parallel tracks, seeking to annex half the property into town - the rear portion is currently within Sussex County - while beginning the process of rezoning the parcel.
Milton Attainable Housing is proposing for the portion of the parcel at the southwest corner of Route 16 and Country Road to be rezoned, partly as C-1 commercial and partly as R-3 residential. Part of this portion of the property is already in Milton town limits, zoned C-1. The back half of the parcel is proposed to be changed from R-1 residential to R-3, to allow for the multifamily apartment and townhouse units that have been proposed.
The commission will also review the zoning code definition of the light industrial district, as noted in the comprehensive development plan.
Those who wish to listen in on the meeting can obtain the weblink, call-in number and meeting ID number by emailing Town Manager Kristy Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org.