Annexation approval paves way for proposed hotel, restaurant along US 113

Property along northbound US 113 in Millsboro that was once the home for the Veterans of Foreign Wars has been annexed into the town of Millsboro as the proposed location for a four-story hotel and restaurant.

MILLSBORO – The annexation hurdle has been cleared for property owners seeking to bring a brand-name hotel and restaurant – preferably a steakhouse – to Millsboro’s US 113 corridor.

After concerns and opposition were voiced and questions addressed during a public hearing, Millsboro town council Monday night cast unanimous approval to the annexation of the former Veterans of Foreign Wars property and another parcel along northbound DuPont Boulevard.

The request surfaced about two months ago on behalf of the revocable trust of James D. Parker and Mary Beth Parker.

“Our vision for the property would be we’d like to have it zoned highway commercial and we love to be able to take that property and obviously put a hotel on it, with some type of restaurant, not attached to the hotel but in that same parcel,” James Parker of Jim Parker Builders Inc. said prior to the hearing.

The two parcels combined total 3.2 acres. Zoning is highway commercial.

Now armed with annexation that will provide water, sewer and municipal police coverage, Mr. Parker said their hopes for the property are for a four-story, 80-unit hotel and a separate restaurant.

“Right now, we are looking at 80 to 100 (units). We’re having a full detailed report done by professionals. They will scope us and tell us what the exact need is,” said Mr. Parker. “Right now, the preliminary report is telling me 80 units, which is what we are looking to build.”

The hotel project tied to annexation drew opposition from Claudette Burns, Anita Steere and Jennifer Sullivan.

“The three of us live in Magnolia Meadows and we’re sort of objecting to this hotel that they are planning,” said Ms. Burns. “I mean, we don’t need one, for one thing. It’s not near the beaches or anything where people want to go. And a lot of times the drug trafficking is also done in hotels. We’ve got enough problems of our own without any added incidents with a hotel coming.”

“You have an honest concern with drugs,” Mr. Parker said. “But not just Millsboro, it’s all over Sussex County and all over the country.”

Franklin Wilcox quizzed Mr. Parker on the type of hotel being courted. “Is this going to be a low-budget type of an operation?” he asked.

“Absolutely not,” said Mr. Parker. “We’ve been looking at Marriot. We’ve been looking at Best Western, looking at Holiday Inn. We’re not looking to build a low-scaled thing here. We’re also not building the Taj Mahal,” said Mr. Parker.

Jim Parker of Jim Parker Builders listens to a question during the Aug. 6 annexation public hearing.

“For the record, I’ve been a ‘Millsborian’ my whole life. I have helped create Millsboro and I’m a part of it. Any property I own in Millsboro I would take you and show you,” said Mr. Parker.  “I can tell you, everything I run and operate I run it first class. I’m personally involved, and I can tell you I own several properties here in town. I think you’ll see my heart is in what we do. We’re not in it just for the money. We’re part of Millsboro. Again, this a hotel not a motel. There is a difference by the way – a big difference.”

As for what might be a stake as far as restaurant possibilities, Mr. Parker said at present there isn’t anything “on the books. But what I would love to see is something like a steakhouse … an Applebee’s,” he said.

The word “steakhouse” drew applause from the large audience in council chambers.

There was brief, semi-heated discussion spurred by Mr. Steere’s claim that her property taxes would go as a result of the hotel coming to town.

“Why is that happening?” said Ms. Steere, citing reference to a July newspaper report on the proposed annexation.

Town councilman Tim Hodges and Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson eased fears and offered clarity on the apparent misinterpretation or misunderstanding of what was actually cited in the report by the town’s annexation committee.

“First off, let me answer it and say there is no indicator that says your taxes, your water, your sewer or anything will go up,” said Mr. Hodges, “That means the town is going to get more money because of the hotel coming. It doesn’t mean that the rates are going up.”

“Property taxes, water and sewer revenue will go up only because there is another person paying,” said Mr. Hudson. “It doesn’t mean the rates are going up for you. It means there is more money coming in because there is an additional taxpayer.”

Mr. Hodges further noted that the property owners are willing to commit to a sizeable monetary sum for the annexation fee, building and other permits, sewer and water hookup and other related costs.

Regarding access, Mr. Parker said present plans are for one entrance off US 113 and hopefully two ways out. “Again, DelDOT tells us what we can do and can’t do,” he said.

Councilman Larry Gum emphasized that without annexation the property will remain an undesirable enclave, out of town police jurisdiction.

“This piece of property right now is not in the town limits of Millsboro and is not governed by our police department. If they have an issue there they’d have to wait for state police to come because that is an enclave within Millsboro,” said Mr. Gum. “We’d like to close up that enclave and make it part of the town.”

Millsboro Police Chief Brian Calloway offered support for this annexation.

“That piece of property was a problem for many years,” Chief Calloway said. “I have worked directly with the AG’s (Attorney General) Office for it to be a nuisance abatement property. There were several shootings there. There were several criminal activities there. I have had several months of meetings … for the AG’s Office and the owners of that property to come to a resolution that they will sell that property; that it will no longer be a criminal nuisance to our town. That being said, the Parkers have purchased the property, and I am looking forward to the future annexation of that. It would make our lives much easier.”

The Office of State Planning Coordination reviewed and accepted the “Plan of Services” for the requested annexation.

Preliminary plans and final plans must come before council for approval.

“I share a great vision for it and I think if to comes to pass you’ll see it being an asset to the town,” said Mr. Parker.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

You are encouraged to leave relevant comments but engaging in personal attacks, threats, online bullying or commercial spam will not be allowed. All comments should remain within the bounds of fair play and civility. (You can disagree with others courteously, without being disagreeable.) Feel free to express yourself but keep an open mind toward finding value in what others say. To report abuse or spam, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box.