Selbyville closer to water expansion

Selbyville officials are eager to begin the process of expanding the town’s water service area.

That expansion has come a bit closer in recent weeks, with the arrival of an agreement between the town and Artesian Water that would officially give the town’s water department the right to service five properties that were mistakenly included in both entities’ target zones for future water service.

One obstacle remains: an element in the agreement from Artesian that would allow the company to service the five properties if its service area were to expand to the vicinity before the town’s does.

That runs contrary to the town’s understanding of the agreement between the two entities, said Town Council Member Richard Duncan Sr. at the council’s June 6 meeting. Previously, he said, they had agreed that the town would be servicing the five properties, without any potential rush by either to do so before the other.

Duncan said he would strike that segment from the agreement before it was signed by town officials.

Water engineer Chuck Hauser noted that the town was, indeed, nearing a point where it would be expanding the water system in the direction of the five properties, with the next step being to conduct a public hearing on the proposed expansion.

Expansion is planned at the ends of both the Route 17 and Route 54 corridors, with two test wells to also be drilled as part of the plan.

Hauser said he’d verified the procedures for the hearing with Town Solicitor Tempe Steen and all that remained to move forward with the process was to establish a time frame, including whether council members preferred to hold such a public hearing prior to a council meeting or on a separate day.

Mayor Clifton Murray was adamant about the need to move forward with the water expansion process. “The quicker the better,” he said.

Council members agreed to set a special meeting for Thursday, June 16, at 7 p.m. in the town hall to formulate a resolution that would schedule the public hearing and schedule that hearing.

Hauser also reported that the town was in the process of finalizing the locations for the two proposed test wells, with a goal of keeping them both close to the planned water mains for the proposed system expansion.

Duncan also reported that 7.7 million gallons of water were used in the town in May. The town has also issued its Environmental Protection Agency-mandated consumer confidence report. Duncan noted that the report indicates the town’s water supply meets all federal quality standards and that any questions about the report or water system should be directed to town hall.

Also at the June 6 meeting, council members unanimously agreed to adopt the International Building Code and International Residential Code, in the wake of similar moves by the county and other area towns. The code formerly used as the basis of the town code has been deemed out of date and replaced in many municipalities with the newer standards.

Town Manager Gary Taylor noted that some segments of the existing town code and the new codes were adapted to fit town needs, rather than being kept precisely as written.

The adoption of the codes also establishes a Board of Appeals in the town, with the council to serve as that board and the town’s building inspector to serve in a non-voting advisory role.

Council members and residents in attendance at the meeting were in agreement that the town’s streets are “a mess.” Resurfacing projects have been delayed and streets previously prepared for new paving have suffered under recent rains, with potholes the result.

Representatives of Mountaire Inc. requested a timeline for the completion of paving near the poultry processing plant, noting that they were thrilled the project was being done but that it had been more than a week since the pavement had been stripped from Railroad Avenue. The stripping left the road with an estimated 6-inch drop from the existing paving, in addition to the potholes.

Taylor said he expected the road to be repaved this week, possibly on Wednesday, June 8.

Council Member Jay Murray emphasized the importance of repairing defects such as the potholes before the surface repaving was done, also asking who would be responsible for the cost of repairing the potholes that resulted from the paving being undone during the recent rains.

Jay Murray and the mayor both agreed that the project must be done right, with the potholes repaired and not simply paved over. Hauser said he planned to visit the site and check on the potholes and drainage issues.

Mountaire representatives also asked the town for an update regarding their request for two speed bumps across Railroad Avenue, on either side of a planned crosswalk. The crosswalk was set to be painted but the speed bump idea was rejected by the town.

Mayor Murray noted that speed bumps were being discouraged on town streets. Hauser cited the problems the speed bumps impose for emergency vehicles, as well as the noise potential with trucks passing over them. The painted crosswalk will be put in place, without the speed bumps.

Council Member Frank Smith also requested Mountaire complete the repair of a door at the plant to help reduce noise.

It was noted that at a recent meeting of the Sussex County Association of Towns (SCAT), a request was made by Delaware emergency officials for municipalities to map low-lying areas for the use of state and federal emergency officials should a hurricane hit.

The group is also encouraging towns to sign a mutual-aid agreement that would smooth recovery processes by sending emergency services from lesser-affected towns to those hardest hit during such an emergency.

Also at the June 6 meeting, council members:
• Unanimously agreed to allow the subdivision of the Scott Carey property on Route 17, from two lots to three. The application was recommended for approval by the town’s planning and zoning commission and would allow two new homes to be constructed on the lots while a third home remains.

Council members noted concerns about parking and traffic on the properties and that they would be requiring off-street parking due to the narrowness of the street.
• Unanimously approved the final plan for Peter Bernstein’s warehouse on Route 113. They noted that Bernstein had agreed to previous commission and council requests to alter sewer and fire hydrant systems, and Bernstein further agreed to enlarge a water main at the meeting.
• Took no formal vote but agreed with a planning commission recommendation to deny approval for a home planned for the historical business district on Hoosier Street. The builder had agreed that the planned home was inappropriate for the property and the aesthetics of the area and said he would offer other home styles to the property owner.
• Reported a lack of progress on the Church Street pumping station for the town’s sewer system, noting the contractor was still waiting on parts and likely would be doing so until early August. Two administrative fines were also assessed for sewer violations in May, totaling $2,000. The average daily flow for the sewer system was 912,000 gallons — within required levels.
• Noted progress on the Pop Warner baseball fields, with sprinkler systems installed to maintain the grass.
• Recommended property owners on the south end of Main Street consider formally requesting a change in zoning if they wished to change the zoning to historical business.

A property owner complained about the limitations of the existing residential zoning, though limited commercial functions are allowed with a license. She expressed concerns about the impact of the zoning on future value of the nine properties that were not zoned historical business, as well as the immediate impact of the restrictions on her own home-based business.

Council members noted that the zoning had been decided when other homes in the area were designated as historical business, due to the concerns of property owners in the area. They said a request of a bulk of the current property owners, if they desired the business zoning, could be taken up by the planning commission.

It was noted that the aesthetic/architectural requirements of the historical business and historical residential zones are essentially the same, focusing on preserving the character of the neighborhoods.

Police reported 126 complaints and 269 tickets issued in the town during May. The Click It or Ticket initiative was deemed to have gone “very well,” while increased policing needs on all fronts were reported as the summer season commenced.

Police Chief Scott Collins thanked Phil Owen of Mountaire for assistance with a child safety seat campaign and distributing information to Mountaire employees. He also noted an incident of vandalism to the police Web site that has since been repaired.

With enforcement of the new overnight parking rules and one-way streets in the town being in full swing, Collins also noted that the department’s next initiative would be to crack down on problems with loud music.

Taylor said the town’s annual spring clean-up day had gone well, with fewer appliances needing to be picked up than in the previous year. He noted that a few homes had been missed during the collection but that BFI had returned to pick up items from those homes in the following days.
“We pretty well cleaned house around Selbyville,” Taylor said.

The town’s annual Old Timer’s Day event is looming, and Taylor said the planned antique car show at the June 18 event was expected to be significant, with a variety of antique cars, motorcycles and tractors. He noted that trophies for the show were being sponsored by businesses in the town, including a 6-foot trophy to be awarded to one winner.

Food and craft vendors have continued to sign up for the event, he said.

The town’s new railroad museum is scheduled to open the same day, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony set for 9 a.m. Taylor said memorabilia was still being submitted to the museum, with an original teller window from Baltimore Trust set to join the collection.

Taylor reported progress at two of the three new housing developments in the town, with Sandy Branch having exceeded expectations and selling approximately half of available homes to date. Similar progress was reported at Victoria Forest.

Barclay’s Station remains a source of consternation for town officials, with work stalled while the developer waits for work at another development to finish. Duncan deemed the project area “unsightly,” while Taylor noted that a notice of violations had been sent to the developer that day.

The next Selbyville Town Council meeting is set for July 17.