Selbyville passes third water referendum

It’s time to finish the water filtration plant, and Selbyville residents this week approved the latest round of funding for the project. In a special referendum on June 3, residents voted, 62-2, to allow the Town to borrow $500,000 to finish building another water treatment building.

If all goes according to plan, Selbyville won’t have to repay the money from the Drinking Water Revolving Fund. The loan has 0 percent interest and 100 percent principal forgiveness upon project completion.

Mayor Clifton Murray thanked everyone who came out to vote.

Selbyville actually had two “nay” votes this time, which hadn’t occurred during the previous unanimous votes.

Residents had previously approved taking a similar $1.4 million loan (201-0) in 2011, to dig new wells. When those showed trace contaminants, residents approved taking a $2.5 million loan (88-0) in 2013 for water plant construction.

The latest loan should enable Selbyville to finish the water aeration building, thus forgiving both the 2013 and 2017 loans.

The project got started with gasoline additive MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether) seeping into the ground water from a still-unknown source.

Selbyville is adding a new building to the water filtration process, which was scheduled to begin production on June 6. That means better quality water should be flowing from Selbyville faucets, said Councilman Rick Duncan.

The MTBE filtration consists of two simple air-stripping towers, around 30 feet tall, behind the existing water plant. Within the columns, water flows downward while air is pumped upward. MTBE is a volatile organic compound that evaporates when it touches air.

The Drinking Water Revolving Fund program is administrated by Delaware Department of Health & Social Services.

Meanwhile, the older water treatment plant roof needs replacing, so the council has approved a $20,000 bid by Healthman II Roofing for that work. However, a painting project will be delayed.

In other Selbyville Town Council news:

• Selbyville will seek a one-year extension to complete its Comprehensive Plan 10-year update.

Because the plan is due in September, Selbyville will request a one-year extension, which isn’t uncommon. It helps that the delay isn’t from shirking of duties, but has resulted from their attempts to win grant funding.

Since they didn’t win a state planning grant to pay for the work, Debbie Pfeil of KCI Technologies proposed a $35,000 “bare-bones” plan for drafting the town’s updated document. In doing so, the Town saves about $15,000 by doing some of its own work and printing, and by using fewer support hours from KCI. The plan still includes community feedback.

Selbyville’s update will need a lot of work, since the Town has passed the 2,000 mark for its population. The State now requires a more detailed plan for land use, including stormwater management and more. For planning requirements, that lumps Selbyville in with cities including Georgetown and Harrington.

“You’re in the big-dog club now, with 2,000 and over,” said Pfeil.

• Towns may have more power in changing speed limits, said Police Chief W. Scott Collins.

He said the new administration at the Delaware Department of Transportation is more willing to allow municipalities to change speed limits than it has been in the past.

“As long as we show some sort of justification, DelDOT will allow us to change it,” Collins said, versus the lengthy speed studies the State is typically known for when such changes are requested.

To begin, he’s hoping to extend the 35 mph zone on Route 54 eastward by about 100 yards.

• Lighthouse Crossing residents came to the council this week to request a speed limit change. The police department will give the development a turn with the portable speed trailer, which tells drivers their speed and can discourage speeding.

• Mountaire has requested to drill a new well near their southeast employee parking lot, across Hoosier Street from the plant. But the council was hesitant. Councilman Clarence “Bud” Tingle said he wasn’t comfortable with adding a water line onto a nonconforming property, especially with the possibility of spreading contaminants in Mountaire’s source water.

The fewer wells drilled, the better, said Duncan. Wells owned by the Town and by Mountaire have contaminants.

Mountaire rep Jay Griffith said a new well is needed to replace another well that has been rehabbed but continues to stagger. He said he wasn’t sure why the company didn’t just tap into the Town source nearby, also across the street, as the town council suggested. But he said he’ll look into it.

• The 60th annual Old Timer’s Day festival returns June 17 on Church Street, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The family-friendly event includes classic car/truck show, venders, door prizes, food, live music with the Glass Onion Band, children’s pony rides, moon bounce, fire truck rides and more. The car-show awards ceremony is at 3 p.m.

• New police desktop computers were approved at a cost of $9,417, which was more than the $7,800 originally budgeted.

• The council unanimously approved an allowable conditional use for Howard Bunting to open a bookkeeping/payroll service at a residence at 65 Lighthouse Road.

• The town council favors changing the maximum grass height from 12 inches to 8 inches.

The Selbyville Town Council’s next regular meeting is Monday, July 3, at 7 p.m.