Selbyville considers multiples issues

The Selbyville Town Council has approved — again — a resolution for an $850,000 bond for water and sewer system improvements, based on votes in 2000 and subsequent years. The re-approval of the council resolution was needed due to some minor changes in languages from when it was passed at the council’s November meeting. Council members voted unanimously (5-0) to approve the amended resolution at their Dec. 5 meeting.

The council also considered but made no firm decision on reducing parking on McCabe Street to one side only. The notion was suggested by resident Geraldine Stevens, who said an accident she had had while driving down the street on an evening in early November was evidence enough that the situation on the road was dangerous.

Stevens said the street was routinely being used by children for play and by adults for loitering and socializing, and that it was so narrow with cars parked on either side that she’d unwittingly hit a woman with her car’s mirror while driving down the street.

While parking on the street is forbidden after midnight, Stevens said the incident showed there was a problem that existed in the evening hours, too.

She also objected to the notion that she’d been ticketed for inattentive driving in the incident, while there had been no penalty for the woman who had been in the street and who was taken to the hospital. On that note, Stevens said she was disturbed by the presence of so many illegal immigrants in the town.

Mayor Clifton Murray said he agreed that there was a lot of activity on McCabe Street in the evenings, noting that the same problems for drivers existed on other narrow streets in the town. He had always known that sooner or later, he said, someone would get hurt or killed as a result.

“I figured it would come to this, but I hoped no one would get hurt,” Murray added.

He indicated he favored changing the parking on the street to one side only, saying the question was which side to eliminate.

Council members noted there is a requirement to provide off-street parking for residences on that street, reducing the need for parking on the street. Council Member Jay Murray said he felt it would be OK to have one-side parking on the street because of that.

Town Manager Gary Taylor recommended council members obtain the input of the police department before making any decisions on the matter, while Council Member Richard Duncan said the location of fire hydrants would also be a consideration.

In additional public comment, residents of the Buntings Mill development questioned why the town was still refusing to accept the development’s streets. The issue has been raised at previous council meetings, and the answer was basically the same — the streets are not up to the town’s requirements due to construction failings, and the town cannot accept them until that is fixed.

Town officials encouraged the residents to take the issue to developer Chandler Land, which still owns the streets. Taylor, noting that the town had no place in issues between the home owners and the developer, still cautioned that Chandler Land was showing reluctance to fix the streets and turn over the homeowner’s association due to some home owners’ refusal to pay fees.

But the town did agree to take a limited part in trying to find a solution for the ongoing problem, offering to contact Gemcraft Homes, which sold the properties, and request that company intercede in the negotiations between the two parties. Beyond that, Taylor said, the home owners may need to take legal action.

He did note that the town has continued to do maintenance work on the streets, such as snow removal.

Also at the Dec. 5 meeting, progress was noted toward opening bids on the town’s planned sewer aeration project. Representatives from town engineering firm Davis, Bowen and Friedel (DBF) said the final drawings are now complete, with the final round of changes. That means the project could go out to bid in the coming weeks.

The town is also in meetings with well contractor A.C. Schulte regarding the test water supply wells the town agreed to contract to the company at the council’s November meeting. It was noted that access to the site may be an issue.

Funding complications are bogging down efforts to obtain an emergency generator for use by the police department and town hall. Of the $46,000 needed for the generator, only $24,000 has been obtained by the town. Officials will be looking into Delaware Emergency Management Agency grants to potentially fund the remaining $22,000.

The Church Street pumping station project is finally nearing completion, with a final walk-through of the work scheduled for the coming week. Town Manager Gary Taylor proclaimed the work “a nice-looking job,” emphasizing its state-of-the-art nature.

It was a quiet November for the police department, with 115 complaints, 134 tickets and $2,600 in fines. The town’s code enforcement office reported a busy month, with 85 rental units inspected in what Taylor said he believed was a single-month record. December promised to be even busier, he said.

Taylor noted that the Office of the State Fire Marshal (OSFM) had not approved the town’s request to mark fire hydrants with color-coded straps and had instead insisted the hydrants be marked with painted caps.

Industrial user Mountaire Inc. was assessed another $6,000 in administrative penalties for four ordinance violations and two permit violations during November.

Representatives of the company noted that the wastewater manager at the plant had been let go after a failure to follow established procedures that led to an unusual violation. The town sewer system was the recipient of some of the material the poultry plant normally ships to a landfill.

Councilman Frank Smith III said the material was still being analyzed to determine its exact content but Mountaire representatives assured the council the material was not a significant source of BODs or TKN, for which the sewage system normally is monitored.

Mountaire also noted that progress was being made toward a new wastewater treatment system, with approval given for preliminary plans at the corporate level. They also emphasized that the plant had gone 13 months without a monthly BOD violation, though the daily violations were still the subject of fines.

Council members unanimously approved the request of Donald Weir to partition his property on West Church Street into two lots so that his daughter can build a home on one of them. The town’s Planning and Zoning Commission had recommended approval, with the condition that the dwelling plans would still have to be reviewed and approved to ensure they were within the character of the existing neighborhood.

Concluding the meeting with his administrative report, Taylor pronounced the town’s annual Christmas parade a rousing success. He said there had been quite a turnout, considering bitter cold temperatures and stiff winds. He credited the work of the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce for bringing in 25 volunteers to help with the parade and noted that the lucky winner of the Chamber’s 50/50 raffle had been none other than himself.

The next Selbyville Town Council meeting will be Jan. 9, 2006 — moved back one week due to the New Year’s holiday.