Selbyville council discusses water, business and buildings

Water quality is improving in Selbyville, thanks to the town’s new well, now in part-time use. Selbyville Town Councilman Rick Duncan reported some of the daily test results for the water at the Jan. 6 council meeting.

Most days, the water’s pH is near neutral, and Duncan read past iron levels that include 0.03, 0.01 and 0.00 parts-per-million.

“That’s almost no iron. It’s good to see these types of numbers,” Duncan said.

Iron can adversely affect water’s taste, odor or color, but it is a not federally regulated, just state-monitored.

With $2,526,300 coming soon from the Delaware Drinking Water Revolving Fund for water treatment in the town, Selbyville could begin engineering the improvements with a $123,000 grant from Delaware Department of Natural Resources & Environmental Control’s Tank Management Section.

At the end of the water line, Bettina Stern has been named the new wastewater treatment superintendent. As a Class 4 operator, she has more than 20 years of experience with Selbyville. As laboratory director and administrative assistant, she won the 2011 Operator of the Year award from Delaware Technical & Community College’s Environmental Training Center.

At the plant, collection vats are almost three-quarters full of sludge, which raised concerns about overflow before the scheduled March collection date. To be safe, 100,000 gallons will be hauled away.

In other Selbyville news:

• Operations at Mountaire have raised some concerns. A resident complained that there are no flaggers for the Hosier Street facility, so trucks and heavy machinery sometimes enter the road despite poor visibility, which risks collisions.

“I’ve seen it,” Mayor Clifton Murray agreed.

Councilman Frank Smith also reported that an odor persists from the poultry-processing factory, and Duncan noted that Mountaire used to send a liaison to town council meetings to address such concerns.

Town Administrator Bob Dickerson said he would address the complaints with the plant manager.

Police Chief W. Scott Collins said he will also speak with the Mountaire director of security, whom he said has sent several employees to a flagger course, although Collins said he hadn’t seen them recently.

• The Planning & Zoning Commission has recommended approval of multi-business use at 7 N. Williams Street. The existing office building could be revamped for office space for individuals or businesses. It would have event space, so people could host wedding receptions, birthdays, retirement parties or business meetings.

“It was a good presentation and well-thought-out business plan,” said Councilman Jay Murray. “It’s a big building. It’s very capable of handling several things comfortably. I think it’s worth listening to.”

However, multiple businesses are only allowed within the historic business district after Board of Adjustment approval of a special-use exception for structures of mixed sizes. A BoA meeting and public hearing will be scheduled in the near future.

• Selbyville is poised to grow, as the council unanimously approved (Jay Murray abstaining) annexation of a half-acre parcel on the south side of Route 54 is owned by Joseph Papiri.

“It’s basically surrounded by annexation the Town has already proposed,” Councilman Clarence “Bud” Tingle Jr. said.

• The Industrial Park Committee showed some life last month, recommending approval of a new business. Jay Taustin, of Embers restaurant and Candy Kitchen fame, hopes use a warehouse for his restaurants’ food storage, beginning with dry goods and eventually expanding to refrigeration and other restaurant storage.

Despite councilmember Tingle’s lament that only two full-time employees are expected at the site, to help load trucks — even though the industrial park’s intent is to bring more employment — the council unanimously approved the use.

• Election season has returned. Town council candidates may register to run for two-year positions at Town Hall by filing written notice by 4:30 p.m. on Feb. 4. They must be 21 or older and Selbyville residents for one year before the election, which is March 1.

Voter registration ends Feb. 7 at 4:30 p.m. Voters must be 18 or older and Selbyville residents.

• A Jan. 3 fire burned the Ash Arms apartment building at 18 W. Church Street, across from Dollar General, home to eight families.

“Looks like it’s a total loss,” Dickerson said. “No injuries, so that’s the good thing.”

Town officials said the owner is working with insurance companies, and the Red Cross has provided temporary homes to everyone displaced by the fire. Donations drives through Phillip C. Showell Elementary School and Dagsboro bar Mr. Banana’s have already started to replace some of the items lost by the occupants.

Mayor Murray pointed out that the building has been in town for a long time, and Dickerson said it used to be a chick hatchery.

• Selbyville police had 156 calls for service, issued 153 tickets and collected $2,481 in fines last month. In preparing the annual police report, Collins reported that statistics appear to be down, including auto accidents for the third straight year.

“Look at our burglary numbers compared to the surrounding areas. The key is visibility,” Collins said.

• The council unanimously agreed to donate $300 to Kids Art Month, sponsored by the Selbyville Community Club each March at the Selbyville Public Library. Other businesses and individuals also contribute prize money for the children.

• Dawn Lekites thanked the community for donating to the Community Club’s coat drive for veterans.

“Once again, I’m just overwhelmed by … the quality of donations received,” she said. “You know how often I was in here emptying this box!”

“That’s a good thing,” Clifton Murray said.

The next Town Council meeting will be Monday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m.