Selbyville residents share crime concerns

Some Selbyville residents are concerned about increased crime and suspicious figures on the western side of town. At the July 11 town council meeting, two residents from Hosier Street Ext. described suspected criminal activity on the street, which leads into Maryland, including stolen medications, drug overdoses and a high-speed police chase.

They said they don’t see much police action on their side of the road, although Police Chief W. Scott Collins said much money and patrol time has been invested in nearby neighborhoods.

“Call us when they’re out there,” Collins responded to the complaints about loiterers. “We get calls all the time” and drive out to check the situation, he said.

These residents aren’t alone in having concerns.

“It’s going on a lot of places,” Mayor Clifton Murray said of seemingly suspicious activity, including on Polly Branch Road and S. Main Street.

Also, drug overdoses don’t necessarily have legal consequences, Collins noted.

“If someone overdoses and you call for someone in your house, you are immune from prosecution,” he said. “The point is to get help there to save someone’s life.”

The Selbyville Police Department did get some love, too, as residents expressed gratitude in general to the police, and to the Town for funding its own law enforcement.

In other Selbyville Town Council news:

• Very popular in various neighborhoods, the electronic speed trailer is making the rounds for traffic enforcement. But don’t expect cops to stake out those same spots.

Collins reminded the public, “You’re losing some of the [live] patrol when you put the sign out there.”

Also, seatbelt and DUI enforcement campaigns begin later this month.

• Mountaire is close to being fined for breach of contract with the Town, according to Councilman Frank Smith III.

Tractor-trailer loads of live chickens should be parked in a cooling shed, Smith said. But the timing doesn’t always allow for that, said Mountaire’s Jay Griffith. That’s why chickens were recently parked outside on hot days, under fans.

“We’re trying to do the best we can,” Griffith said. “It was that or let ’em die.”

Parking the loads of live chickens outside violates parking rules written into a 2013 operating agreement, which Mountaire and the Town approved when the poultry processing company added on when building a new indoor parking facility.

Smith said he was frustrated, expecting that Mountaire, rather than improving things, will just view any monetary fines as a necessary evil.

“‘It’s just going to be a cost of doing business,’ which is what I heard Mountaire say when I was doing sewers,” Smith said of the company’s previous non-compliance issues.

Mountaire has a new proposal that would “get the fans off that property,” Griffith said.

“You’re in violation of zoning by having them on there,” Smith responded. “Basically, you guys wrote that other agreement, and we tweaked it. … Now you want to discard that and start all over again.”

“We want to make some changes, yes,” Griffith said.

• Drivers of heavy vehicles are being asked to continue avoiding Railroad Avenue, which showed the first signs of collapse in May of 2015.

The road crosses the Sandy Branch tax ditch, which flows west to east in a galvanized metal culvert that has begun to rust out. That caused soil and, eventually, asphalt to begin crumbling downward.

The hole was temporarily patched and is still refilled with crushed stone as needed.

“We’re going to watch it daily, see if we can get a plan going,” Town Administrator Michael Deal said. “It’s open to light traffic.

… We asked Mountaire not to use it for tractor trailers or heavy traffic.”

But a long-term solution is still in the works. Selbyville is waiting for its engineering firm, Davis, Bowen & Friedel, Inc., to submit project designs, hopefully by August, Deal said.

Until then, the Town doesn’t even know what to expect in terms of repair costs or time estimates.

Engineering alone could cost $52,000, while construction itself could range from $300,000 to $500,000, according to Town Administrator Michael Deal.

Apparently, the Sandy Branch switches from two pipes to three pipes in the vicinity of Railroad Avenue, a two-lane road running parallel to and between the railroad track and the Mountaire processing plant. The pipe continues under Mountaire and Southern Delaware School of the Arts properties.

• Four new fire hydrants may be coming to town. In particular, Duncan said, one out-of-commission hydrant will be replaced by week’s end, at the corner of Main Street and Lighthouse Road.

Some hydrants are so old that replacing them might be easier than tracking down replacement parts, officials noted.

• The wastewater treatment plant got a positive report from the Surface Water Discharges Section of Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control. A June inspection showed good operations, techniques and recordkeeping. The only observed deficiency was a storage tank that lacked a label.

“The team did a good job back there. They always do a good job,” said Smith.

• Bulk trash is collected on the first Wednesday of each month. Each month, households may put out one bulk item, such as a television.

• Mayor Murray said the town had another successful Old Timers Day festival, thanks to the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and Town staff.

• The Selbyville PD will once again purchase a new police vehicle with the annual Sussex County municipal police grant of $25,000.

Collins said the Town has six full-time officers, three regular part-timers and six part-timers who Mountaire contracts solely for company security.

• The residents at 8 N. Main Street were given three more months to make emergency home repairs, after they asked the council for additional time to repair a damaged and leaky roof. After mistakenly failing to get a permit for home repairs in a historic zone, they requested permission to finish repairing the roof without the heavy investment of a completely new roof.

The Selbyville Town Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, Aug. 1, at 7 p.m.