MILLSBORO — Via zoning change, the town is raising the roof in anticipation of health care facilities locating within its corporate limits.
At its Monday meeting, Millsboro’s mayor and Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance specific to the highway commercial zoning district that will raise the height limit from a maximum of 35 feet (three stories) to a maximum of 60 feet (five stories) for a hospital, medical care facility, medical clinic, health care facility or surgical center.
“There is quite a bit of interest from different health care systems right now in Millsboro,” said Town Manager Sheldon Hudson. “I think it helps to prepare the way for some of that growth and that interest.”
This ordinance mirrors council’s previous zoning change pertaining to hotels.
“Basically, it will mimic what we did for hotels a few years ago that paved the way for the avid (hotel),” Mr. Hudson said.
Among the fastest growing municipalities in Delaware, the greater Millsboro area has drawn notice from health care entities in their growth plans.
TidalHealth, formerly Peninsula Regional Health System Inc., has identified land annexed into the town along southbound U.S. 113 and north of Del. 20 as a potential ambulatory medical campus — part of the Patriots Bluff Commercial enterprise, Mr. Hudson said.
“It’s exciting. I certainly hope they come to Millsboro,” he added.
In May, Dr. David Tam, CEO of Beebe Healthcare, labeled Millsboro as one of Beebe’s prime growth areas, as it looks to expand from landlocked Lewes to several portions of Sussex County.
“We’ve been expanding a lot in Millsboro. We have actually proposed to the (Delaware) Health Resources Board that we will create another free-standing emergency room there,” said Dr. Tam in a May 11 presentation to Sussex County Council. “That is something we are working on right now. We have submitted the application to HRB, and we are moving forward with that.”
The ordinance approved by council included some smaller ancillary changes, as well, but increasing structure height was the key item, said Mr. Hudson.
He emphasized that the approved ordinance only increases height for medical-related facilities in highway commercial zoning, which is basically along the U.S. 113 corridor.
“I think it’s a good compromise,” he said. “It accommodates the growth, while still keeping the feel of Millsboro. Because they only apply to highway commercial, it will still have the same feel in those residential districts and those downtown areas.”