Frankford drafts franchise agreement with utility

The Frankford Town Council approved a draft franchise agreement between the Town and Chesapeake Utilities this week.

Council members and residents first heard from representatives of Chesapeake Utilities in March about a possible franchise agreement for natural gas. This past March, Darrell Wilson, director of Business Development and Planning for the utility, came before the council and explained that Chesapeake had done several conversions to natural gas over the past 18 to 24 months at businesses including Allen’s Family Foods, Perdue and Dogfish Head Brewery.

He said Chesapeake had been asked by Mountaire Inc. if they would be able to serve their Frankford facility, as well. That would be in addition to Mountaire’s plant in Millsboro, which they already serve.

“We have a franchise agreement in Dagsboro, although we haven’t extended that far south yet,” noted Wilson, explaining that a franchise agreement basically means that, if they need to bore under a road inside town limits in order to expand the service, the agreement would spell out that they would repair any damage done, etc.

Town Clerk Terry Truitt asked if Chesapeake would only be coming down the Route 113 corridor. Wilson said that, for now, that would be the plan, since it is the most direct route and there is less of a need for easements on privately-owned property.

Truitt also asked if there was a certain number of residents who want to have natural gas be an option for them in order for Chesapeake to offer the service to residents. Wilson said that, typically, it helps to have an “anchor customer,” such as an industrial customer like Mountaire. He also said the distance to the houses or development, the number of customers and the type of energy needed (heat and hot water versus a fireplace, etc.) are all factored into whether Chesapeake offers residential service.

This week, Wilson thanked the council for considering the franchise agreement and said he would take the draft back to their representatives to peruse and to ultimately take the agreement from draft to final document.

Also on Oct. 3:

• The council approved a proposal from White Marsh Environmental Systems to install two new above-ground chlorine lines at the Town’s water plant, because of problems they had encountered with the underground lines. The estimate to replace them was approximately $550, plus $150 for labor.

• The council approved the hiring of Tidewater Utilities to conduct flow testing on the Town’s water hydrants, at a cost of between $3,520 and $5,280. Tidewater representatives said it is a test that is needed approximately every five years.

• Terry Truitt reported that the town needed to go through the Court of Chancery before bidding out the demolition of the structure at 12 Mill Street.

• The town council discussed donating money to the Frankford Library but ultimately decided that there is not enough money in the budget to do so this year.

• The council also discussed reducing trash pick-up to less often than four times per month after resident Greg Johnson asked if they could find a way to save residents money. Truitt said reduced service could be a possibility, but since the Town has only had the combined trash and recycling pick-up for one full month, they would have to see how things panned out.