Selbyville OKs possible Mountaire operating agreement

More than a year of discussion has already gone into drafting an agreement between Mountaire and the Town of Selbyville regarding parking and cleanliness at the poultry processing plant, but it has now been approved, even though the agreement may not go into effect for several years and came without unanimous agreement from council members.

The Selbyville Town Council voted 2-1 on Monday to approve the operating agreement, with Councilman Frank Smith dissenting and Councilman Rick Duncan absent.

Mountaire representatives said they hope to purchase the Burpee property, located west of the existing Mountaire complex on Hosier Street, with intent to build a new indoor parking facility for empty live-haul trucks, box trucks and more.

The Town has suggested that, during the buying process, the poultry processing company address existing issues of parking and cleanliness.

Between parking and operations, Mountaire’s Selbyville facility is spread over five parcels of land, said Town Administrator Bob Dickerson on Feb. 4. The Town has no control over where trucks park, which is, in practice, everywhere. That includes fan trucks or forklifts, which can have farm manure on them.

“We need to get organization on where park … what we can expect to see over there,” said Dickerson at Monday’s meeting.

In the operating agreement, Mountaire would agree to park equipment in certain areas, keep the roads and facility clean, and be subject to penalties for noncompliance. They would also be required to clean up after themselves.

“This is something we feel is needed, something we don’t have now,” said Mayor Clifton Murray. “They can park anything now.”

Smith disagreed with the contract to allow the purchase, citing the existing early-morning and late-night truck noise. He said bio-solids — such as animal waste — are probably coming from the trucks.

“Mountaire is restricted to two parking lots. They already have history,” Smith said. “We shouldn’t have to mandate keeping it clean. That’s just being good neighbors.”

“Now we have the ability to ask and agree to what to do. Our attorney drew it up,” said councilmember Jay Murray, adding that the town could be cleaner. “We want them to clean it up.”

“It seems we’re getting overrun,” said Smith, asking if the storage facility could be built at another Mountaire location.

“This should get trailers off multiple properties,” said Councilmember Clarence Tingle.

“The problem was we were telling them what to do but not telling them where to do it,” said Clifton Murray, adding that the Town has no obligation but to enforce the agreement.

Smith said the Town is still dealing with the issue of odors from Mountaire. Jay Murray agreed but said that is a separate issue.

The operating agreement will not go into effect until the facility is built, which could take some time. Mountaire will need building permits from the Town Selbyville and approval from state conservation and environmental agencies.

In other Selbyville news:

• Due to lack of candidates, there will be no town council election in 2013. Mayor Clifton Murray, Frank Smith and Clarence Tingle will keep their seats.

• March has again been proclaimed Art Month for Selbyville Youth. The Selbyville Community Club will host the annual children’s art show at the Selbyville Public Library all month, including the opening reception Saturday, March 9. The council also made a $300 donation to the program.

• The council unanimously approved a tax rate of $1.85 per $100 of assessed property value, a number based on the County’s assessments. “It has been that way for 20-some years,” said Clifton Murray.

• In what Tingle called a “no-brainer,” the council agreed to participate in the Delaware Mosquito Control program, which sprays the town, as needed, in summer.

• Selbyville will begin planning for a new a storage building at the recreational fields. The council approved the ordering of plans that may include storage, restrooms and a concession area. The State has offered funds to help with the project if Selbyville begins construction.

• The council voted to approve minor changes to the recently passed zoning ordinance amendment regarding the residential planned community (RPC) district. They edited some language and clarified their intent for additional buffer areas.

• Flow testing has begun at two new town wells, to determine the proper pump size to install. Flow is already “good, with room to improve,” said town engineer Erik Retzlaff of Davis, Bowen & Friedel Inc. Water quality tests are to follow. Then the pumps, generator and connecting pipes will be installed.

The new wells were commissioned when two older wells showed rising levels of MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether), a chemical gasoline additive. The Town may get new filters from the state to avoid future MTBE contamination problems.

• Selbyville police reported 181 calls for service, 135 tickets issued, 17 arrests made and $2,911 in fines collected in December of 2012. Additionally, having received a grant for prevention of violent crime, the police have made several drug arrests recently and have more visibility during nights and weekends.

• Residents who see safety hazards, such as pole lights that need to be replaced, are being asked to report them to Selbyville Town Hall.

The next town council meeting will be Monday, March 11, at 7 p.m.