Proposal would add new farmers’ market in Selbyville

Looking to join many of the area’s towns, Selbyville is now considering a farmers’ market of its own. Jeannie Mariner of Berlin, Md., requested to use her family-owned property at the corner of Route 17 and Williams Street as a farmers’ market.

At the Selbyville Town Council meeting Jan. 9, Mariner noted that the property is zoned in the historic business district. “It doesn’t get more historic business than a farmers’ market,” she asserted.

Selbyville Town Code allows retail in that zone, but farmers’ markets are not listed in the code as a permitted use, so they are neither prohibited nor allowed.

“It’s something we feel would benefit us … and farmers,” Mariner said.

The “producer-only” market would include farmers, cooks or artisans who created the product. That might include everything from fresh strawberries to wool scarves from local sheep.

“Everything sold at the market would have to be produced on the Eastern Shore. And we would require proof of that,” Mariner said.

Jellies, cakes and other value-added products must come from health inspector-approved kitchens, and all products and vendors must be pre-approved before sale.

Although the market will likely begin with fewer vendors, Mariner said the property could hold up to 43 sellers.

Most vendors would park onsite, by their tents, and 28 additional vehicles can park onsite. Additional visitors may use the municipal parking lots. Mariner said customers would be encouraged not to park in other businesses’ lots.

“If we ask people to park in municipal lots, that’s foot-traffic through town,” she said. “I think that would be a positive thing.”

As proposed, the market would operate once weekly from April to December, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with an extra hour for setup and cleanup.

There would be no central location for refuse, but vendors would be required to clean their own areas.

Council Member Clarence Tingle Jr. said he’s seen other markets that clean up quickly and police their own areas, so, “After they’re gone, 10 minutes later you can’t even tell they were there.”

Mariner said she hopes to include a permanent gazebo at the market site as an information booth or low-key performance space. She shared plans for food pantry donations and local student partnerships. Mariner also discussed portable toilets, insurance liability and property maintenance.

“We’re trying to do it right,” she said.

The market is in preliminary planning stages. Mariner will have to obtain approval from the Town and Delaware Department of Agriculture before committing vendors. The family operates its own farm and has studied other nearby markets, she noted.

At Monday’s council meeting, residents and the council appeared to approve of the idea of the farmers’ market, as long as the market is properly maintained and policed.

The plans will be forwarded to the town solicitor and Planning & Zoning Committee for a possible conditional use.

In other Selbyville news:

• Town officials report that the town’s water has returned to a safe level of total trihalomethanes (TTHM), at 65.4 parts per billion (ppb). TTHM is a disinfection by-product. The standard for TTHM is 80 ppb, but water customers were notified in September of 2011 that the TTHM 12-month average was 87.3 ppb.

• The council voted to apply for a $202,000 water quality improvement grant from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The Water Facility Planning Grant Fund would defray the cost to evaluate and improve water quality in town. Selbyville has already received a $1.4 million forgiven loan at zero interest for water systems.

• The council passed a resolution for cross-connection control for the water system. By adopting a water backflow control plan, the Town aims to ensure water safety and becomes eligible for state grants. Hydro Designs Inc. was tapped to help improve Selbyville’s cross-connection.

• Resident Kevin Braswell noted that, after he reported problems with a culvert under his road last year, the Town had immediately responded and fixed the problem. Since then, there has been no standing water on his property or nearby, he reported.

• Braswell also reported that the U.S. Postal Service has refused to allow mailboxes on Church Lane, citing the inability to turn postal trucks around on the dead-end road. Braswell said he has complained to several levels of USPS officials, but Church Lane residents still must cross Route 17 to access their mailboxes in the easement. Instead of doing that, he said, many pay for post office boxes.

• The town council voted unanimously to donate $300 to the Selbyville Community Club for Kids’ Arts Month in March. They also budgeted $6,000 for Selbyville’s annual Old Timers Day in June.

• Selbyville Police Department reported receiving 150 calls for service, issuing 50 tickets and collecting $1,146 in fines in November of 2011. The department is short two officers, but has applicants for the next police academy, which should be announced soon.

Police Chief Scott Collins said December was a busy month, as many robbery cases were recently solved with one arrest, and there was a large, late-night fight in one business.

• It was announced that Community Development Block Grants are available for low- and moderate-income homeowners. Sussex County’s Community Development and Housing Department can fund home improvement projects, including housing rehabilitation, demolition, sewer and water hookups and infrastructure.

In the last 11 years, 77 Selbyville households have received a total of $590,000 in funding, which is secured by a 10-year lien on each improved property – with five year liens for owners 62 or older – that reduces in value by 10 percent each year, leaving the owner without anything to repay if they stay in the house for 10 years. Low-interest loans are also available for some of those whose income places them outside the range for a grant. Contact the Community Development and Housing Department at (302) 855-7777 for more information.

• The town council voted to approve Donald and Kim Hurley’s request to split their property at Gumboro Road into two parcels.

• The Selbyville town council election is scheduled for Saturday, March 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Two council members will be elected to two-year terms. Candidates must apply no later than 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 7. Forms are available at Town Hall.

Candidates must be at least 21 years of age, be a U.S. citizen and have been a bona fide town resident for at least one year prior to the election date. Voters must be at least 18 years of age, be a U.S. citizen, be a bona fide resident of the town and register at Town Hall no later than Friday, Feb. 10, at 4:30 p.m.

• The next Selbyville Town Council meeting will be Monday, Feb. 6, at 7 p.m.