Mountaire tries new plan to improve traffic, runoff in Selbyville

Mountaire Farms has simplified its plans to get chicken trucks at its Selbyville plant out of the rain.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control (DNREC) is pushing Mountaire to reduce chicken waste and runoff from live-haul trucks. So, in June, Mountaire began testing a new traffic configuration that used their cage-repair area as a staging area as trucks wait to be unloaded in an adjacent side of the Hosier Street facility.

“I liked it. We had to do a lot of practicing with timing [but] I was pleased with it,” said Mountaire’s Amanda Irwin, who observed traffic flow from multiple angles, including the rooftop. “The driver didn’t even have to get out. … I personally thought it made Hosier Street look much better” and calmer.

The Selbyville Town Council has long frowned on the company’s stopping traffic on Hosier Street to maneuver tractor-trailers from a staging area on one side of the street into the poultry processing plant on the other.

The Town knocked out several meetings before the Independence Day holiday, including the Hosier Street Study Committee, which is designed to allow the town council and Mountaire executives to hash out plans face-to-face, with representatives of local school, police and fire agencies.

“It just looked like a cleaner operation,” said Mayor Clifton Murray of the new truck staging area.

“I saw a lot of advantage to it,” said Councilman Clarence “Bud” Tingle Jr.

But Councilman G. Frank Smith III was not to be deterred from the Town’s goal for a permanent solution in reducing traffic backups. In charge of the Town’s water and wastewater systems, he has been known to view Mountaire with more critical eyes and suggested that the Town assess the company $500 daily for on-street activities.

“That would be even more incentive to get off Hosier Street,” said Smith.

Mountaire’s Mike Tirrell pointed out that the factory is a better neighbor than in decades past, but also implied that being a good neighbor is a two-way street for the Town and the company.

As executive vice president of processing operations, Tirrell also reiterated a previous statement: “We were telling the truth when we told you this is not an extension of the [poultry processing] line. That’s not what we’re trying to do. We’re just trying to get out of the rain.”

By keeping the trucks out of the elements for longer, there’s less opportunity for manure to fall on the open road and wash into street drains. DNREC wants Mountaire to catch more of that waste and stormwater for proper disposal or wastewater treatment before it flows into Sussex County waterways.

“Having trailers in the shed, it helps the street sweeper do a more complete job,” said Irwin.

This July plan is a departure from one proposed in May, in which Mountaire proposed building a canopy on the south side of Hosier Street, like an open pole building where trucks could be staged before entering the factory across the street for unloading.

Whether using the newly proposed building or the canopy, “Either one of those options takes care of our problem with DNREC,” said Tirrell.

Officially, the Selbyville committee plans to unanimously recommend to the town council that Mountaire be allowed use the cage-repair area for truck staging, for the purpose of satisfying DNREC. It would be a conditional-use permit, with conditions to be determined after Mountaire test-runs the new configuration for another month.

The committee was formed this year to come up with ways to alleviate Hosier Street traffic. Its meetings are open to the public, and any major plans that the council members support at the committee level must still be presented and voted on publically at a town council meeting.

In other Selbyville Town Council news:

• Hearing complaints about early-morning water pressure and weak showers, the Town will consider potential fixes, such as backwashing town systems at a different time and checking for clogs.

• The annual Old Timer’s Day street festival was deemed a success, with the largest number of classic cars registered (136) since the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce took over organizing the event. It also raised $1,135 for beneficiary Delaware Hospice.

The Selbyville Town Council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, Aug. 5, at 7 p.m. It will start with a public hearing to consider tightening up approvals of private lodges and clubs in the Historical Business District (Section 200-76 of the town zoning code).

The Town proposes to move “private clubs, lodges and meeting halls” from allowable uses to conditional uses (for which the Town can impose certain requirements).

“The town council will review each proposed private club, lodge or meeting hall on a case-by-case basis,” stated the council resolution.

Council members have said they do not know of any such active private clubs in town limits.


By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter