Millsboro council discusses farm stand, dangerous intersection

The Millsboro Town Council met this week to discuss whether or not to allow Millsboro resident and state Rep. John Atkins to have a produce stand in town.

“I’d like to put it between the Hair Depot and the town maintenance building,” said Atkins.

He noted that he already has two wagons in the Longneck area, which were approved by the County, where he sells produce grown on 10 acres. He said that, last year, he wanted to set up a table in his driveway where his kids could sell the produce. However, he was informed by the Town that a stand could not be set up there.

Atkins said he was willing to work out a leasing agreement with the Town that would make them comfortable with the stand, including a stipulation that if the Town wasn’t pleased with the arrangement after two weeks, that he would close.

Town Solicitor Mary Schrider-Fox said that the Town would need to draw up a lease agreement with stipulations, and also look into the property’s easement.

“It sounds like there could be a little bit of negotiation to be had, perhaps,” she said.

Councilwoman Michelle Truitt questioned whether or not it was a suitable spot for the stand, given the lack of parking and proximity to Main Street.

“People come and go all day. It’s not like everyone comes at the same time,” explained Atkins.

The council suggested that perhaps Atkins could use a piece of property on Monroe Street, where Houston White once was, as it was slightly larger and had more space for parking.

Atkins said he would be open every day during the summer, except during the town’s Farmers’ Market. He added that he hoped to open in two weeks’ time, in order to be able to catch the strawberry season.

The council voted unanimously to appoint a committee to study the situation regarding the parcel, its fee and lease, and asked Schrider-Fox to research the legal aspects of leasing one of the parcels discussed. The council also voted to authorize the town staff to act based on the findings of the committee, and, if it found all was in good standing, to lease the property to Atkins.

Also at this week’s council meeting, Millsboro Police Chief John Murphy told the council that there had recently been a four-car collision on the southbound side of Route 113, in front of the shopping center that houses Auto Zone and Payless Furniture.

“This was a four-vehicle accident that involved a bus. A southbound vehicle had to slam the brakes on to avoid hitting a vehicle that was projecting out into the left southbound lane. One of the vehicles couldn’t act quick enough, took the median, and at that point it was a demolition derby,” said Murphy. “We were lucky that it wasn’t much more serious than it was.”

Murphy said he knows the council has discussed that crossover before, but this week he urged the council to look taking further action.

The Delaware Department of Transportation is currently rehabbing several intersections on Route 113 that were points of concern and, according to DelDOT’s Web site, the proposed intersection improvements may include (but are not limited to) “median channelization and/or median closures to restrict certain movements to address safety and operational concerns at each intersection. The safety projects will minimize conflicts at the intersection while accommodating the heaviest turning movements and diverting traffic volumes to nearby intersections.”

“The irony is this is conceivably one of the worst ones, and they just let it go,” said Murphy. “And we haven’t even begun to see the amount of traffic that’s to come later on this year. In the summertime, you’re taking your life in your hands if you are crossing that intersection… The median is barely big enough for one vehicle. I think the solution would be super, super easy. I just don’t know how we would get them on board with it.”

“It would be an easy one, because they could just come out and go right to the light at Arby’s,” said Mayor Bob Bryan.

Atkins said he agreed that the intersection is dangerous and noted that he had met with DelDOT at one point, with former state Sen. George Bunting to try to persuade DelDOT officials to close the intersection.

“I think it’s on the radar screen,” he said. “I think it’s the most dangerous intersection.”

Atkins recommended that the council and police department send letters to his office in Dover, as well as letters to DelDOT.

“I can definitely get [DelDOT] Secretary Shailen [Bhatt] back down here to see firsthand. I don’t think it would be a problem for the Town to get it closed.