Selbyville council creates stricter rules for grass height

Some local property owners may need to break out their lawn mowers a little more often. The Selbyville Town Council voted this week to reduce the maximum allowable height of grass from 12 inches to 8 inches.

That will let the Town begin the enforcement process sooner. Previously, town staff were concerned that by the time they sent a warning notice at 12 inches, the violation was continuing at 14 inches and the grass sometimes remained uncut until 18 inches.

On July 10, the council unanimously adopted changes to Code Chapter 131 “Property Maintenance.”

The lack of homeowner response has been a problem, said Town Manager Stacey Long. She also encouraged the town council to increase the lawn-mowing fee rates for Town staff to do the job. When Public Works mows a person’s lawn, it should be a penalty, not the inexpensive option, she said.

On the road with Mountaire

Mountaire Farms and the Town are still at odds over truck parking.

“We’d like to get an amicable situation with all parties and comply with all the requirements the Town has,” said Mike Tirrell, a Mountaire vice president. “We certainly don’t want to be a nuisance.”

He invited town council members to tour the site, so both sides can gain insight and find a solution.

But Mountaire hasn’t been following the rules for a long time, some Selbyville council members said. In 2013, the two entities signed an operating agreement that allowed Mountaire to build a new indoor parking facility and gave the Town power to assess fines if Mountaire didn’t park trucks accordingly.

Councilman Clarence “Bud” Tingle said Mountaire doesn’t follow the agreement, but Selbyville is also at fault for not assessing penalties.

“We can certainly listen, but we’ve done this all before,” Tingle said. “You guys wrote the agreement. You have a problem living up to it. … Why have an agreement if you just do what you please? That’s what we see.”

He said Mountaire has considered more permanent changes to the plant’s layout, which the Town would prefer, but it’s a very expensive prospect.

Meanwhile, Mountaire has requested to drill a new well in Selbyville, but the town council still isn’t pleased with the proposed location.

The old well, #3A, is running out and nearing the end of its lifespan, Tirrell said. Mountaire proposed a replacement far from the old location, but the Town wants it closer to the original.

Tingle said Mountaire has acres to build upon, so the Town doesn’t believe the plant needs to cross the road to a nonconforming property.

“We have a situation where, if we don’t have it replaced, we could actually not have enough,” Tirrell said of the plant’s water supply. “There’s some urgency to our request. We’re going to have to do something.”

Mountaire will take that issue back to the drawing board.

The council also asked about other issues with Mountaire, such as incidents when chicken plant odors linger over town, or a new water source. For instance, when asked about underground water pipes from the repair shop, Mountaire staff could not confirm whether the water has a backflow preventer or even a meter for billing.

In other Selbyville news:

• The Selbyville Public Library will host Coffee with a Cop on July 15 from 9 to 10 a.m. The public can meet Selbyville police officers, ask them questions or just to say “thank you.”

This autumn, Salem U.M. Church will invite SPD and other emergency responders to host a community discussion on the heroin epidemic. Details will be forthcoming. In mid-July, Selbyville police officers will begin carrying naloxone, an emergency overdose-reversing drug, and will undergo related training.

• Drinking water quality is improving in the town. Constant flushing of hydrants has reduced the buildup of total trihalomethanes (TTHMs), a disinfection byproduct. Meanwhile, the new aeration plant is helping to reduce volatile compounds in the water. Fluoride is again being added to the water, per state requirements.

• A public hearing will be held Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. to consider limiting additional car dealerships in town. The zoning proposal would move “new and used car dealerships” from “allowable uses” to “conditional uses.” That would mean the town council could permit that type of business, but they’d have the right to refuse it or insist on certain conditions. Council members have previously remarked on their being content with the current number of car dealerships in town.

• The council agreed to a $34,140 contract with KCI Technologies to help the Town write the 10-year update to its Comprehensive Plan, which is required by the State.

The Selbyville Town Council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, Aug. 7, at 7 p.m.