Selbyville sets public hearings on ordinances

Selbyville officials have set public hearings on several ordinance changes for the start of their Feb. 4 meeting, lining up changes for neighborhood business uses and in setbacks in the town’s residential districts.
Town Administrator Gary Taylor said the town’s Planning & Zoning Commission and Town Solicitor Tempe Steen had recently recommended the town not pursue a separate zone for neighborhood business uses, as had previously been considered. Instead, they recommended the town look to conditional uses for such businesses, to allow the town council to oversee applications for such uses on a case-by-case basis.

With the conditional use plan, each application would have to stand on its own and could be more closely monitored by the town council, Taylor said. With a new zone, such uses would be available by right, allowing for anyone wanting to open a medical office, restaurant or grocery store to do so in such a zone, with only minimal control from the town council.

Taylor said the conditional use method would allow the council to mandate requirements for things such as lighting, buffers, hours, parking and loading operations, which could not be so easily controlled or tailored to specific sites or businesses under a neighborhood business zone. With conditional uses, the council can also choose to allow particular applications and to deny others they don’t feel are in the town’s best interest.

Also discussed as part of the topic were possible regulations regarding impervious surfaces and lot coverage, but Taylor said members of the group had been unsure it was wise to institute such requirements up front.

Councilman Jay Murray said he believed such requirements would force the town to hire an engineer to oversee each application, whereas state and local stormwater regulations might already come into play.

The council will consider adding the conditional use for neighborhood businesses after a public hearing at their Feb. 4 meeting.

Also set for a public hearing and council consideration that evening are changes to setbacks on properties in some of the towns residential and semi-residential districts.

The R-1, R-2 and historical business districts had all had their rear and side setbacks changed recently, but town officials have since discovered unintended and unwanted consequences of those changes, which have prevented some property owners from adding sheds and other auxiliary buildings.

“We decided we should put them back the way they were, with the 10-foot setbacks,” Taylor said Monday.

Also to go to public hearing on Feb. 4 is a change of zoning from R-3 to R-4 for several parcels in the town. One is a 25-acre parcel off Polly Branch Road north of Route 54, while the second is a set of two parcels of the former Wolf property southwest of Route 54.

Council members on Jan. 7 did vote to annex two parcels into the town. The small parcels — .91 acres and 32,000 square feet, respectively — are located on Route 54 east of Mumford Sheet Metal Works and are surrounded by the town on three sides. They are to become part of a planned shopping center at the location.

The council voted unanimously on Monday to annex the parcels under general commercial zoning.

Water treatment upgrade anticipated

Councilman G. Frank Smith III reported Monday that the town now expects to need to replace the existing sand filter on the town’s water treatment system. He said the town had consulted with representatives of industrial user Mountaire Inc. and reached agreement both that the replacement of the filter is needed and that the two will work together on financing the job.

Smith said the proposed disc filter system that would replace it would take the system from 1 million gallon capacity to 1.5 million gallon capacity and last the town for approximately 20 to 25 years.

Council members also reported progress on the installation of sewer along Route 54, with a pump station started construction there. Well construction has also taken place on Route 17, with manholes installed and service to homes in the area to take place in the future with the installation of some laterals.

Councilman Richard Duncan noted also that the town’s new water meter system had already proven its value in reducing meter reading tasks from two to three days of work per quarter to just two or three hours. He also reported that the town’s Well A is still offline while larger piping is installed in an attempt to increase flow.

Taylor reported to the council on Monday that Chesapeake Gas utility has pulled out of initial plans to bring gas service through Selbyville from Salisbury, Md., opting instead to allow another company to provide service through main lines coming from the other side of the town.

Also reported was a recommendation from town staff for Selbyville not to pursue involvement in a proposed Delaware League of Local Governments workers’ compensation pool, which many local towns have rejected as not beneficial to them due to their own high ratings.

The town council also acknowledged on Jan. 7 that it would begin running advertisements for a new town administrator, as Taylor has announced his plans to retire as of May 31, 2008.

Burglary suspect caught

Murray acknowledged during his report from the police department on Monday that a suspect had been caught in a series of vehicle burglaries in the Selbyville and Ocean Pines, Md., areas.

The suspect was believed to have burglarized approximately 70 vehicles in the Ocean Pines area and another two dozen in the general vicinity of Selbyville before his arrest. All of the incidents involved unlocked cars, with items inside stolen, Murray said.

And Selbyville is again planning an art show as part of March is Kids Art Month, set for March 1. Children from Selbyville-area schools are expected to participate, as is Mayor Clifton Murray, who traditionally hands out the prizes in the show.

Finally, the council was joined at Monday’s meeting by Selbyville Middle School sixth-grader Tanner Wade, who attended the town council meeting as part of his requirements for a citizenship badge as he pursues his Eagle Scout rank with Troop 89 out of Millsboro.