Selbyville still dealing with developer issues

Selbyville residents voiced their concerns Monday night about what they described as a “dump site” on Ronzetti Avenue in Victoria Forest, as well as drainage problems from recent infrastructure work on Hudson Road.

Resident Margaret Joy asked the town council at their July 6 meeting when they were going to hold the developer of Victoria Forest accountable for a pile of debris filled with wood, concrete and other materials – a sight she looks onto from her property.

“Who is in charge of making him accountable?” she asked.

Mayor Clifton Murray noted that the town has had problems with the developer and “still have a problem with him.”

In response to Joy’s questions about the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control’s (DNREC’s) accountability and state agencies giving passing grades on inspections for the development, Murray said all of the inspections had been completed but that the pile of debris is “not really under inspections.”

“We are going through the due process. It is not always as simple as it looks. Whatever we can do to help with information, we’re here to help,” offered the mayor.

Town Manager Robert Dickerson said all of the legal motions filed by the town in regard to Victoria Forest are available in Georgetown for interested parties to view. He referred her to her Rick Burrough, the attorney working on the case, but added that the town is still waiting for a court date.

“I’m not a good ol’ boy. He’s not going to like what I have to say,” replied Joy.

“We’re trying. I don’t know what else to tell you,” said Murray. “See Mr. Burrough. I agree it should be cleaned up.”

Resident Jackie Bates commended the council for their hard work and asked what the impact the proposed Strawberry Ridge development would have on Victoria Forest residents.

“We still have issues, and we had been told they wouldn’t start until the issue was resolved,” Bates said of Strawberry Ridge. “And I just wanted to double check…”

Developer Don Conaway said the drainage at Strawberry Ridge would not impact Victoria Forest at all, because they had changed all of their stormwater management plans.

Victoria Forest residents also asked the council about recent break-ins, and Police Chief Scott Collins emphasized that the best deterrent is locked doors. He said Victoria Forest backs up to an “obvious high-crime area” and offered that motion-detector lights are also a deterrent.

“It’s mostly juveniles,” said Collins. “We haven’t had a locked vehicle broken into in about a year and a half. Of 50 car break-ins, not one was locked.”

“It’s not the first time,” said Councilman Jay Murray, of the rash of break-ins, adding that it seems to go in waves. “Just inform us, and we’ll try to keep it to a minimum.”

In other police-related news, Selbyville police had 164 calls for service, 306 tickets and 25 arrests in the month of June. Collins said they now have seven full-time officers and two part-time officers on duty.

Also on July 6, Councilman Richard Duncan Sr. reported that, in June, there were 6.4 million gallons of water used in the town’s water system, and they are still waiting for the town’s new, third well to get up and running. With demand picking up, he said, they are having slight problems with the filters in the plant, because they are working on overload.

“We got them in 1997, and the filter life is about seven to 10 years,” he said, adding that they probably need to start looking to purchase new ones anyway.

Councilman Frank Smith III reported that two incidents of non-compliance were reported for the town’s wastewater system – one for not enough chlorine in the effluent. But he said they were back online.

Jay Murray reported from the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, concerning tax-ditch easements required by DNREC. Conaway and an engineer for the project said they are petitioning DNREC’s Tax Ditch Association for a reduction of tax-ditch easements.

The easement requirements, at the current lot size of 12,000 square feet for the proposed development, would mean a loss of about 30 lots for the project. Because conceding to the request would require the town re-zone the property back to R-2 or grant some type of variance – a type the town does not have on the books at this time – the council said it is something they would like to study further, as it is an issue that will likely come up again.

“I’d rather not go back down to R-2,” said Jay Murray, “but we need a procedure to deal with it, depending on the impact.”

While work has been completed on the Route 54 and Route 17 water and sewer infrastructure project, a resident on Hudson Road asked on Monday when his yard’s grade would be back to its original state. He said it took six and a half hours for a sump pump to drain all the water from recent rains – something he never had to do before.

Erik Retzlaff, the town engineer, said they had contacted DelDoT about the restoration issue but haven’t yet received a determination as to what to do. The resident said he had been told that it would be fixed and put back the way it was, regardless of what DelDoT said.

Jay Murray pointed out that the town could take the initiative and establish the grade themselves, under the restoration provisions with the contractor on the project. He said he wasn’t comfortable waiting for a response from DelDoT.

“I don’t think you’re talking about a lot of work. The contractor needs to be told what we expect, even if we have to show them how to do it.”

“Can’t you take some initiative and move that dump?” asked Joy, to a round of laughter, turning the topic back to the problem in Victoria Forest.

“Yes, ma’am, we can,” answered Jay Murray. “We just have to be careful in how we proceed.”