Mountaire Selbyville (copy)

Mountaire Farms has worked out an agreement with the Town of Selbyville, concerning its processing plant there. The agreement calls for poultry trucks awaiting unloading inside the plant to be under cover, to reduce runoff from rain falling on the waiting chickens.

Where does sewage water go after it’s been treated? Selbyville treats its own sewage at a Polly Branch plant, but the Town has an agreement to pipe all the treated effluent to Sussex County’s ocean outfall, which discharges into the Atlantic Ocean.

This month, the Selbyville Town Council approved an updated contract with the County, simplifying the billing and clarifying the County’s responsibility for capital repairs at the outfall (a topic that the previous agreements had been silent on).

The Town’s transmission line connects to the ocean outfall system, adjacent to the County’s own treatment plant, at the South Coastal Regional Wastewater Facilities near Ocean View. Previous contracts had been approved in 1985 and 2008. With Mayor Clifton Murray absent, the Nov. 2 vote was otherwise unanimous.

The Town now agrees to pay the County an initial base rate of 7.5 cents per 1,000 gallons of treated sewage effluent. Selbyville often reports an average daily flow around 1 million gallons, which would equate to about $75 per day (or close to $28,000 annually).

Average monthly flow may not to exceed 2 million gallons per day, and instantaneous flow may not exceed 1,545 gallons per minute (with exceptions for emergencies or mechanical problems).

Also relating to water quality, Mountaire Farms and the Town agreed to update their existing land-use agreement, allowing Mountaire to stage the loaded live-haul poultry trucks in a warehouse building before those trucks enter the main receiving area. The purpose of the agreement is to keep a cover over trucks loaded with chickens on slaughter days, just while they’re waiting to unload at the Hosier Street poultry processing plant.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources (DNREC) has long desired Mountaire to better control stormwater runoff, including rainwater that falls on the live birds. Now the company can get the trucks under cover, and better trap and treat any stormwater coming off the birds.

The trial period of this configuration seems to have worked, so both parties signed the document.

Also, despite the pandemic, Mountaire Farms still plans to pack 10,000 food boxes for Thanksgiving for Thousands distribution to those in need, but “It’ll look a little different this year,” said Zach Evans, Mountaire community relations manager. “To address that need while still keeping everyone safe this year, we won’t be doing one-day blitz. Four volunteer groups will meet in a more open-air tent on Nov. 19 and 20, with masks and social distancing, rather than the typical packed warehouse. (All volunteer slots for this year’s Thanksgiving packing effort have been filled.)

Parking and road repairs

In Planning & Zoning news, the Selbyville Volunteer Fire Company was allowed to partition a Hudson Road property (Tax ID 533-17.00-176.00), slightly north of Lighthouse Road, with the intent of giving a half-acre to the Town, to eventually build an additional water tower.

Also, a conditional-use permit was approved for the residential property at 34 Clendaniel Avenue (533-16.11-34.01) to have a business purpose. Haines Fabrication is seeking to buy the house and land for additional storage and parking. It was a convenient solution to owner Deborah Rogers’ concern when her next-door neighbor’s property was sold and given the same conditional-use permit for equipment storage.

The 25-mph speed limit downtown will be extended along Polly Branch Road near Main Street and the anticipated Creek Haven housing development, although the Delaware Department of Transportation wants more traffic data before approving that change further.

Similarly, “I’d like us to continue to look into excessive street parking in subdivisions,” said Council Member Rick Duncan. “We’ve got to do something.”

“It is becoming a problem in some of the older developments because of the [narrow] width of the street. You put a car on each side, and you can’t get through” with emergency vehicles, said Selbyville Police Department Chief W. Scott Collins.

Research and discussion will continue for a future meeting.

Residents of Sandy Branch housing development are concerned that an underground pipe may be developing cracks and could open up under the roadway. They had even sought estimates for repair.

“That kind of information should be coming to me. I’m the town manager,” said Stacey Long. “We haven’t heard anything of major street/roadway issues.”

The Town oversees roads inside town limits, even in private developments, so all complaints and repairs should be going through Town Hall. Long encouraged the HOA to forward any data they’ve gotten, so that the Town can prepare to scope the pipes.

In other Selbyville Town Council news:

• The Town’s 10-year Comprehensive Plan update has been approved by the Governor’s Office, the final step in the planning process.

• The town council unanimously approved a 10-year cable television franchise agreement with Comcast, which intends to build infrastructure and provide service within the next two years. By law, these are non-exclusive contracts, so Mediacom can continue to serve the town as well. Television franchises do not relate to internet or phone service, although the companies also offer those services.

• The town water system recently violated a drinking water standard for total Trihalomethane (TTHM), a disinfectant byproduct. The Town has stepped up hydrant flushing near south Main Street, to prevent tap water from stagnating and forming the chemical. But the Town will be officially considered “out of compliance” until the average falls below 80 ppb.

At this time, no alternative source of water is necessary, as this is not considered an emergency. However, anyone with specific health concerns should consult a doctor. People who drink water containing TTHMs in excess of the maximum contaminant level over many years may experience health problems and have an increased risk of getting cancer. Contact Town Hall for more information.

• Town Hall’s decade-old computer server failed a month ago. The council agreed to a $7,150 replacement, plus a $200 monthly fee for cloud-based backup (compared to the current $100 backup). This should cause any future outages to only last minutes, instead of days, as it did this time.

The Selbyville Town Council’s next monthly meeting will be Monday, Dec. 7, at 7 p.m. at town hall.

Staff Reporter

Laura Walter is an award-winning reporter on schools, environment, people and history. A graduate of Indian River High School and Washington College, she has rappelled off a building and assisted a magician, and encourages readers to act on local issues.