Indian River school district eyes possible annexation into Millsboro

MILLSBORO — Indian River School District is analyzing possible annexation of one, possibly two district-owned properties into the town limits of Millsboro.

Discussion on a district request for annexation of its East Millsboro Elementary School property on Iron Branch Road has been in the works, and at IRSD’s June 24 board of the education the Ingram Pond property entered the picture.

While the school board took no action at its June meeting, the annexation issue is expected to be on July’s meeting agenda. Still to be answered are questions regarding costs, legal fees and impact fees.

No hurry
“There is no exceptional hurry to do this,” said IRSD Mark Steele. “Let’s make sure we get all of our questions answered.”
School district officials have been in contact with the town in preliminary discussion.
“We have not yet received anything formal from the district relative to the possibility of annexation,” Millsboro Town Manager Sheldon Hudson said Wednesday.

Indian River School District’s East Millsboro Elementary property on Iron Branch Road.

While not annexed, East Millsboro Elementary is currently served by town water and sewer at the lower in-town rate, Mr. Steele said.
Ingram Pond is located off Godwin School Road on the western edge of Millsboro, not far from Planta-tion Lakes, a rapidly growing residential community. Ingram Pond is home to the district’s Outdoor Ed-ucation Center and is being mentioned as a possible future site for a new school.

Board discussion on June 24 initially focused on the annexation request for East Millsboro Elementary, but school board vice president Rodney Layfield suggested talks include the Ingram Pond site.
“If we are looking at something at Ingram’s Pond, would be wise to wait and hold the discussion and see if there is some kind of collective bargaining we can do with Ingram’s Pond and East Millsboro at the same time?” Mr. Layfield said. “If we build it while it is out of town and then annex it in, it might be wiser for us moneywise. Or, would it be cheaper to annex the property and build with it already in the town?”

Mr. Steele said the Ingram Pond property is right across the road from the town limits and “could be annexed at a future date, should the town expand over in that direction or if we should want to use that property for a building someday.”

“Which we probably will because there is a lot of growth across from Ingram Pond,” said school board member Dr. Donald Hattier.
In addition to the annexation fee of $500 that Mr. Steele would likely be waived, there would be an estimated $3,000 to $10,000 in legal costs associated with East Millsboro Elementary property annexa-tion.

“Can we find out from the town, as aggressive as Millsboro is annexing land, and they are, what happens if we pay the legal fees and then a year from now, they end up annexing all the property around it anyway?” said board member James Fritz.

Additional information
District officials plan to gather additional information for board consideration.
“If we would consider doing both properties, for example, what would that constitute doing both? What sort of impact fees would be facing in the future should we decide to build at the Ingram Pond site?” said Mr. Steele.

Besides water and sewer, annexation benefits would include the possibility of an SRO (School Re-source Officer) for the school as well as enhanced emergency response, according to Mr. Steele.
Mr. Steele said his understanding is policy is for police responding to a call outside town limits, they must first be dispatched. If the school was in town limits, town police would respond automatically.

“One potential advantage could be the fact that right now the Millsboro Police Department’s policy is to respond when dispatched by Suss Com,” said Mr. Hudson. “So, obviously if you had the school in town limits, it gives the department a little bit more flexibility in terms of response as opposed to hav-ing to wait for that dispatching order from Suss Com.”

However, Mr. Layfield, a captain with Delaware State Police, and fellow board member W. Scott Col-lins, police chief in the town of Selbyville, both concurred that in true emergency situations police re-spond immediately without having to wait to be formally dispatched.
Jurisdictional boundaries
“If there is an emergency or need for law enforcement officers those jurisdictional boundaries don’t exist,” said Mr. Layfield. “But if it is something small, routine, then yes, the police agency of jurisdiction would respond.”

“The Millsboro Police Department does an exceptional job,” Mr. Layfield added.
Unofficially, Millsboro’s population is around 7,000, spurred by several residential developments, in-cluding Plantation Lakes, which has surpassed the 1,000 building permit mark since the beginning of the development. As the U.S. Census ratio of 2.9 persons per unit, that equates to approximately 2,900 persons.

“I think the fact that the town has actively recruited families, working professionals, we are actively trying to do our part to ensure that all demographic groups are moving here,” said Mr. Hudson. “I think that will mean probably more kids than in the average town in the area, certainly compared to the beach towns. So, I would expect that they (school district) will continue to see enrollment grow in large part to growth in Millsboro.”

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