Preliminary approval given to Selbyville Rite Aid

A new Rite Aid store in Selbyville is on track for a 2010 opening near the intersection of Route 113 and Cemetery Road, with the unanimous approval of a preliminary site plan by town council members at their April 7 meeting.

The 14,000-square-foot store, which is planned to be similar to one already built in Delmar, will be built on a parcel currently containing two homes, which are now set to be razed or moved to make way for the business.

According to Councilman and Planning and Zoning Commissioner Jay Murray, developers are in the process of meeting with state transportation officials to iron out permission for access from state roadways, and approval of the preliminary site plan by the council was a key in being able to move forward with permitting for the project.

Murray noted that, as befits the name of one of the two roadways, there is a cemetery on the property. However, he said, “It will not interfere with the project.”

The small cemetery contains about seven or nine graves and all are located at the rear property line of the parcel, putting them out of the way of construction. He said state archeological experts had already visited the site and confirmed that all of the graves had been located.

Council members approved the preliminary site plan for the project on a 4-0 vote, with Councilman Clarence N. “Bud” Tingle Jr. absent.

The council also gave unanimous approval on Monday to the change of zoning requested by Selbyville Town Village LLC for a 90-acre parcel at the southwest corner of Hudson Road and Route 54, which had been annexed into the town under R-3 residential zoning. The owners had subsequently applied for rezoning to the town’s new R-4 zoning, which allows smaller lot sizes without allowing increase density. The R-3 zone requires a minimum half-acre lot size.

Murray cited the added flexibility of development in the R-4 zone as its major advantage.

“They’ll get the same number of units. But it will allow them to offer a variety of lot sizes or to create additional open space,” explained Mayor Clifton C. Murray.

“They should be able to create a better project,” added Jay Murray, who noted that the zoning request is independent of a request from the developers in the future to gain conditional-use approval for 30 acres of the property to be used for commercial purposes. A public hearing for that conditional-use application was scheduled by the council for its May 5 meeting.

The council on April 7 also voted to annex 81.43 acres at its eastern limits, on the south side of Route 54, owned by Lynch Farm Farmers LLC. The property is to be zoned as R-4 as well.

Mayor Murray and Councilman Murray both abstained from voting on the annexation resolution, citing personal connections with the property, which is located near the Selbyville Town Village property.

Councilman G. Frank Smith III noted the annexation as in line with the town’s growth, its comprehensive plan and Gov. Ruth Ann Minner’s Livable Delaware initiative. He and Councilman Richard A. Duncan Sr. both voted in favor of the annexation, making for a 2-0 vote with the two abstentions and Tingle’s absence.

Progress slow on water, sewer expansion

Engineer Chuck Hauser of URS reported to the council on April 7 that the town had planned to issue a stop-work order for the contractor working on expansion of the town’s water and sewer systems along Routes 17 and 54 if significant progress had not been made on restoration work by the end of this week.

Hauser said the town and state officials had joined in the meeting with the contractor last week and that they would be required to do substantial work this week on restoration of properties where construction has taken place — with the planting of grass, as spring planting time peaks, and improvement of existing ditches and clearing them out for adequate drainage.

Hauser pointed out that the contractor is paid for the construction work, whereas the restoration work is considered a part of the overall contract on the project — thus the preference for construction over restoration.

The town had previously warned the contractor that restoration work would need to be brought up to an acceptable level or construction work would be shut down, Hauser said, but that mark had not been reached as of last week’s meeting. The town would move to actually shut them down this week if the restoration work was not up to standards, he said.

Duncan reported completion of flushing procedures in the town’s northern water tower, leaving the system “running fine.” He said the system at the neighboring Pepper Ridge community would need to be flushed regularly to prevent future problems.

The town recently met its deadline for water sampling, with a report due out to water system consumers in the near future.

Smith reported the draining of one of the town’s two sewer holding ditches as part of the effort to control problematic algal growth in the system. System engineers were due to consult on the problem in the coming weeks, with hopes to solve the problem and get both ditches back in good working order in the near future.

The 2007 annual report on the system was notable, Smith said, in that no enforcement actions had been taken.

Police warn of ongoing copper thefts

Police Chief W. Scott Collins warned April 7 of ongoing problems with the theft of copper and other metals in the area. Recent thefts have included thefts of wire from farm systems and of copper pipes and other metal fittings from unoccupied homes.

“We’ve been fairly lucky here,” Collins noted, saying other towns in the area had been experiencing more thefts than Selbyville but still encouraging care be taken by home and property owners.

Collins also advised that regular traffic control programs are set to begin again in May, with the return of seasonal traffic. Police will be on the lookout for aggressive drivers, drunk drivers and other problem motorists on an increasing basis beginning in the next month.

Collins noted also the installation of a new weather station in the town by the University of Delaware. The station will assist with the town’s “storm-ready” initiative and provides weather updates every five seconds, accessible on the Internet.

Code enforcement officials noted warnings issued to 16 home owners last month regarding non-compliance with the town’s requirement for address numbers to be prominently displayed. They said, though, that most of the town is in compliance.

Also at the April 7 council meeting:

• Administrative staff confirmed Monday that the town will again have no “spring clean-up” event, as it goes into its second year with monthly bulk trash pick-ups. Consensus was that the bulk pick-ups have been well received and well used.

• Council members did ask residents to contact town hall if they notice problems with stormwater controls, as the public works department is beginning its regular work to clear ditches of debris.

• Lower Sussex Slow Pitch Softball will field at least eight teams for play at the town’s ball field this season, council members reported.

• Council members voted unanimously to adopt the proposed budget for the 2009 fiscal year. A copy of the budget is available at town hall. Mayor Murray declared it “a good budget.”

• PNC Bank Branch Manager Dave VanPelt offered the people and town of Selbyville the services of the bank as he takes over that position. A Lewes native, VanPelt formerly worked for Citzens’ Bank.

• Former Town Administrator Gary Taylor, who is still working full-time for the town until he moves to a semi-retired consulting position in May, reported that the town’s sidewalk improvement project was “coming right along.” He projected it would take a week to 10 days for the work to be finished.

A request is being put to state legislators to obtain the funding to complete the sidewalk project, Taylor said, with expectations that the money would be available. Mayor Murray noted the impact of salt on existing sidewalks that led to the need for improvements.