At its monthly meeting earlier this week, the Frankford Town council gave an update on discussions council members have had with representatives from the State and Mountaire Farms related to well permits issued to the poultry company.
The Town filed a statement of appeal in August to the State’s Environmental Appeals Board, following the decision of Delaware Department of Natural Resources Secretary David Small related to well permits issued to Mountaire.
The letter, dated Aug. 16, said the Town challenges the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC) finding that the industrial non-potable well is not in violation of Delaware Code for being “interconnected with any portion of the building’s plumbing and/or any water utility’s service connection,” as well as the failure of DNREC to revoke the permit, as “Mountaire has failed to abide by Permit #252076’s conditions, which is to ‘follow all current regulations governing well construction.’”
The appeal states that the interests of the Town have been substantially affected, as the Town provides water to its approximately 888 citizens, and that they were never informed of the permits being requested or issued.
At the Nov. 7 meeting, councilman Greg Welch said council met on Oct. 27 to try to resolve the financial situation the town is currently facing with the loss of revenue from Mountaire decreasing its town water usage.
“Negotiations don’t seem to be giving us what we need to operate,” said Welch, adding that an appeals date has yet to be set.
Councilman Marty Presley said the meeting was attended by DNREC Secretary David Small, State Rep. Rich Collins, State Sen. Gerald Hocker, along with representatives from Mountaire, DNREC and the Delaware Attorney General’s Office.
“It was basically an off-the-record meeting. None of what was said in the meeting could be used during the appeals process. DNREC was hoping from their conversations with [Town Solicitor] Chad [Lingenfelder] to go into that meeting and if we came to some resolution the Town would drop the appeal.
“At least at that meeting, no resolution was come to.”
Presley said one item discussed during the meeting with DNREC was loan forgiveness.
“Mountaire is a separate issue. Mountaire has the law, according to the Attorney General’s office, on their side. Mountaire has made an offer to the Town of Frankford. The council doesn’t think it’s an adequate offer… Then once they found out we had an opportunity to refinance our loans with zero percent interest they took that loan and cut it back to 10 years…
“Sen. Hocker and legislator Collins were on our side as far as asking Secretary Small for loan forgiveness. This is the only municipality in the state of Delaware going through this. We’ve spoken to other towns and every other town is scared to death that they’re going to go through the exact same thing.”
Presley said the Town hopes the legislature will “cure” the situation in the next session.
He added that the State’s Environmental Appeals Board does not have to hear the Town’s appeal, however if that happens, there would be a process for which the Town to move on to a court hearing.
“I don’t think any of this discussion should be going on now. I don’t think it should be open to a discussion. There are too many critical issues at stake,” said property owner Kathy Murray.
Resident Jerry Smith disagreed with Murray. Council chose to move on from discussion.
In other Town news:
• The Town will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. to discuss items the council feels need to be addressed related to the upcoming municipal election.
• Envision Frankford said the Town’s fall festival was a huge success, estimating that over 500 people attending the festivities.
• Frankford will hold a holiday tree lighting in the Town park on Nov. 26, beginning at 5 p.m. Every Wednesday following, up until Christmas from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Town will host a holiday event in the part, featuring lights and hot chocolate.
• Bacon said that a threat had been made to a property owner at a previous meeting and that such behavior would not be tolerated in the future.