Selbyville to DelDOT: Stay out

Selbyville town officials decided to make their opinion official in the process to select a proposed solution to cure future congestion problems on U.S. 113. The Delaware Department of Transportation and a 25-member working group comprising local community leaders are weighing options on whether to select a bypass around Route 113 or an option that would see the major north-south route converted into a highway only accessible by entrance and exit ramps, similar to Route 1 north of Dover.

Selbyville Town Council members joined Town Manager Gary Taylor on Monday in denouncing a plan to bypass Selbyville to the west and instead favored the limited-access highway, claiming it would cut through their growth zone and adversely impact Route 113-based businesses. Mayor Clifton Murray said that an unwelcome western bypass option would affect land slated for water and sewer expansion and growth in the town’s state-mandated comprehensive plan.

“We worked with the state to come up with our comprehensive plan,” Murray said. “Then this road runs right through this land. It makes no sense. I think they need to find somewhere else for this road. They ought to stay out of our comprehensive district.”

DelDOT officials have not formally recommended an option and are awaiting guidance from the working group, which is expected by the end of this month. Officials from Millsboro to the state line are studying six bypass options to the east, three to the west, the limited-access road and an option to build nothing. The latter has been all but dismissed but law requires that officials keep it on the table. Officials have overwhelmingly selected an eastern bypass option despite widespread environmental roadblocks that would come with building east of U.S. 113.

Selbyville has been unique in its stance and its place in this process throughout. In many of the slides depicting the options, Selbyville is not pictured, ousted by screen-size limitations. When Selbyville is shown, only two bypass options have been deemed viable, both of which are short bypasses around the town to the west and which have been subjects of scrutiny.

Selbyville officials are, in fact, among the only ones on the vast working group calling for a limited-access plan, citing the aforementioned reasons involving future growth and business concerns. They also wondered skeptically Monday whether a western option would help solve congestion issues on Route 54, a major east-west route that is the subject of beach traffic and congestion in the summer months.

Officials just north worry about just the opposite on the business issue: that a limited-access highway that would only allow drivers to cross the road at designated interchanges would effectively split the land on either side of the road and carry detrimental consequences for businesses there.

Dagsboro Mayor Wayne Baker and Frankford’s council members have joined Millsboro Town Manager Faye Lingo in denouncing the western bypass options and the limited access plan, with only environmental officials offering significant opposition.

Selbyville officials seemed eager to cast their votes to put their now-official opinion in writing in voting unanimously to do so Monday.

“We can say we opposed it,” Selbyville Councilman Bud Tingle said, “whether it makes a difference or not.”

In other action on Monday:

Selbyville Town Council approved the final site plan for Lighthouse Crossing, a 130-home development just east of Polly Branch Road, off Route 54. One of the homes already exists, with 129 lots slated for development. The approval paved the way for construction, which should begin soon.

Town Council also unanimously voted to disallow residential development in its general commercial zone while grandfathering existing residential uses. The amendment — which also added car sales lots, veterinarians and pet grooming as permitted commercial uses — met some opposition Monday from a rental property owner who worried that it would stymie future investments in a rental market, which he called necessary for many who cannot afford to buy homes. Town officials said the amendment was meant to create a true commercial district and eliminate “spot-zoning.” Current residential uses in the zone would only be converted if left abandoned for one year or longer.