What began this week as an update from a Frankford businessman on a proposed business park project ended as a heated discussion between the businessman and a resident venting frustration about years of trying to obtain water service from the Town.
At the Aug. 5 council meeting, Travis Martin, owner of Chesapeake Plumbing & Heating, located at Route 113 and Delaware Avenue, provided an update on the business park planned on 9 acres just outside current town limits, telling the council, “I’m happy to annex into town whenever you’re ready.”
Council Vice President Greg Welch said he would support the annexation.
“That’s what we want, is growth, and to do that we need to annex,” he said.
Welch added that the Town’s water plant supervisor has said the Town’s water system has sufficient capacity to serve the business park.
Martin said he has already received approval to join the Sussex County sewer district and that his goal is for sewer lines to be constructed to the site in September. He said he would like to start running water lines to the site in November or December.
But Wesley Hayes Jr., who lives on Delaware Avenue, on the outskirts of Frankford and near Martin’s existing business, said after Martin’s update, “I don’t see where the Town should be approving anything about water.”
Hayes also said the planned entrance to Martin’s project from Delaware Avenue is problematic because it will cause traffic issues in the residential area behind the proposed business complex.
“We have enough of your traffic on our road right now,” Hayes said of the current location of Martin’s HVAC and plumbing business.
Hayes also expressed frustration about Delaware Avenue residents’ desires over the past 30 years to connect to water service from the Town, to no avail. Annexation efforts have been proposed over the years, but never came to fruition.
“What I’m trying to do is take my congested business off 1 acre and put it on 9 acres,” Martin said. “I thought I was doing a good thing for the town.”
John Wright — sworn in earlier in the meeting as the town’s non-voting treasurer, after the departure of council member Velicia Melson — said, “As far as infrastructure, this is a win-win” for the Town. As a result of Martin’s proposed annexation and hooking up to Town water, the residents of Delaware Avenue would be able to receive Town water service, as well, he said.
But Hayes said he is still concerned about the impact the business park would have on his neighborhood, based on issues he said the truck traffic from Martin’s business is already causing.
“If your home was down there, you wouldn’t like what’s going on,” he said.
“We want you as part of the town,” Town Council President Joanne Bacon told Hayes, who mentioned that he and his neighbors had been trying to annex into town since at least the mid-1990s.
“I really do hope that you both join the town of Frankford,” Bacon said to Martin and Hayes.
“I’m all in,” Martin said.
Welch said the previous difficulties with Delaware Avenue annexation were not caused by the current council.
“These decisions were made by other councils, years and years ago,” Welch said.
By Kerin Magill