Selbyville discusses need for drainage easements

The owner of a property on Hosier Street in Selbyville is concerned about stormwater management. With the property located between the road and Sandy Branch Creek (near Cabinetry Unlimited), he believes the nearby storm drain is leading to a broken drainage pipe on his property.

“We think part of that has collapsed in there. This is a really old culvert. Must be 100 years old,” said Bob Dickerson, town administrator. “He asked if we could address that.”

Located near the lowest point in town, that property is sometimes “deluged,” and the catch basin could stand to be larger, Dickerson said.

The Town has no right-of-way or easement, which traditionally allows the Town to legally access the pipe on that man’s property, Dickerson said.

“We don’t have an easement for that. Technically, it’s not on our property, but it’s draining water from our street,” he added.

With an easement, “You don’t own that property. You have the right to maintain it,” explained Councilmember Jay Murray.

If they’re going to the expense of repairing the pipe, Murray said, the Town might as well get an official survey and easement.

Councilman Clarence “Bud” Tingle Sr. wondered if the Town couldn’t just fix it now and deal with easements later. But even though they have a friendly property owner now, Murray said it’s safer to get a legal easement in the event of a different future property owner.

Murray suggested an “as-constructed” easement or something similar, such as an easement 5 feet on either side of the pipe.

Dickerson asked if an attorney should draw up the language, and Town Engineer Erik Retzlaff suggested that they could probably figure it out or find it themselves.

However, he noted that this probably isn’t the only spot like that in Selbyville.

Meanwhile, there’s no definitive reason why water isn’t flowing from the street to the ditch.

“We don’t know if the pipe is cracked,” Dickerson said. “We don’t know … ’til we dig some dirt up.”

In other Selbyville news:

• The council asked Mountaire’s representative how the new odor-catching equipment is working at the poultry processing plant.

“We still have odor. I’m not going to say we don’t. I think the system’s doing a better job, what we’re using now,” said Mountaire Director of Operations Jay Griffith, adding that he’s become less impressed with the old system.

He strongly encouraged the council members to call him to report issues including smells.

“Seriously — call me. It’s OK. … I can get somebody to check it at the plant. It’s no big deal.”

“It was very noticeable Saturday,” Jay Murray said.

Griffith said he found that “upsetting. We’re not even running Saturday.”

The council agreed that there’s a difference in smell with the new system. Although it’s not perfect, Griffith said, “We hope to experiment with it a little more bit. We’re not at that point yet.”

Mountaire is also looking to build a new employee wellness center, easing the burden on its Millsboro clinic.

• Selbyville police have gotten complaints about unsafe driving at the Lighthouse Road (Route 54) and Hudson Road intersection. They’ll request that Delaware Department of Transportation install new signage.

A police grant has paid for additional patrols during busy times.

Also, “If anyone sees a street sign down or light out, please call up and let [us] know. We want to get that taken care of,” said Chief W. Scott Collins.

• In water news, there are no signs of contamination in the Town’s new wells. With cleaner sourcewater, officials said the Town has halved last year’s $100,000 bill for potassium to purify the water. They also asked people to conserve water in the summer heat.

• Sussex County’s Community Development Block Grant Program has reserved about $70,000 for four Selbyville homes, Dickerson noted.

Every year, the program helps repair homes for low- to moderate-income residents of Kent and Sussex counties. Workers do projects needed to make the house habitable and bring it up to code, from removing lead paint to installing windows, roofs and handicapped-accessible ramps.

“It’s been real good for Selbyville over the years,” Dickerson said.

• E Revolution Ventures is now operating at the Selbyville Industrial Park, bringing more than 100 employees to Selbyville, according to Mayor Clifton Murray.

Besides Internet sales, the data-driven company runs Bethany Trading Company, Kites Tails & Toys and other retail shops.

Dickerson said they’re on track to hit an eight-digit sales goal this year.

“Very impressive organization,” he said.

• Selbyville Public Library’s new director, Kelly Kline, introduced herself to the council.

“Stop in, get a book. They’re free!” she quipped.

• Selbyville may need to tweak its zoning code for residential planned communities (RPCs). Originally approved by the council two years ago, the RPC code allows for more creative designs for planned housing communities. But, in a housekeeping issue, the council needs to clarify setback requirements for townhomes, versus single-family homes.

“It’s not unusual when you apply new ordinance to a project, you realize you have to tweak it,” Dickerson said.

The next town council meeting is Monday, Aug. 4, at 7 p.m.