Mountaire offers Selbyville $1M to close part of Hosier Street
Traffic regularly comes to a full stop on Hosier Street in Selbyville when Mountaire trucks are on the move. Poultry plant employees direct traffic to pause many times a day as tractor-trailers back out of a holding area across the street straight into the plant.
The Selbyville Town Council has asked Mountaire to brainstorm solutions for improving traffic flow. Now, one of the Mountaire executives’ proposals is that Selbyville consider closing that section of Hosier Street, in exchange for a “donation” of $1 million.
Hosier Street connects Selbyville’s Main Street to the Route 113 highway. It leads to most of Mountaire’s facilities, as well as to two Indian River School District buildings and several businesses, including the Mason Dixon Shopping Center and the Food Lion grocery store therein.
“It creates some inconvenience for traffic, so we’ve been working very diligently,” said Mike Tirrell, a Mountaire vice president, who was accompanied by engineers, land-use attorneys and flock of Mountaire executives and plant leaders at the Jan. 7 Selbyville Town Council meeting.
“Mountaire property is on both sides of the street, and … the live-haul trucks back in to unload,” said attorney Mark Dunkle of Parkowski, Guerke & Swayze. “So, we asked the engineers to come up with an idea to change this.”
Mountaire’s main proposal includes Selbyville “abandoning” the road —- essentially closing it to the public — from Railroad Avenue on the west to just west of the Southern Delaware School for the Arts. Mountaire would possibly install a bypass road, cutting through the property and clipping that building, so traffic can go through. Or not.
“That might not be popular, [or] it might be. All we’re asking is permission to study,” Dunkle said.
As a property owner, the company officially has requested that Selbyville create a committee to study Hosier Street options and eventually bring a solution to the town council.
“We’ve been working on that and want the Town’s blessing to start a committee,” Tirrell said.
Although the committee must include at least three of the five town council members, Tirrell proposed that they let Mountaire do the legwork of researching, engineering a solution and speaking to anyone affected, from neighbors to the fire chief.
Both the railroad and streets have been reconfigured over the years, said Dunkle, having reviewed old maps from the 1930s and 1950s.
“Business needs changed … and there were changes made to the street,” he said.
Notably, when the Town vacates a street, the title reverts back to neighboring property owners on either side, for free. The idea is that property owners were once inconvenienced to create or widen the roads, so their owners get that land back when the road is no longer in use.
But owning property on both sides of that section of the rather busy road, Mountaire is proposing to “donate” $1 million to the Town of Selbyville if the section of road is abandoned.
“We’re not asking the Town for action tonight — we’re just making the proposal,” Dunkle said.
Councilman Clarence “Bud” Tingle Jr. said he wasn’t entirely impressed with the idea. He said a bypass could be fine, although he added that he didn’t appreciate the idea of selling or abandoning Hosier Street.
It’s at least worth researching, said Councilman Jay Murray.
If “we can’t make it better, we’ll leave it alone,” he said.
“I don’t see where this study is going to hurt anything,” said Mayor Clifton Murray. “It’s going to be time-consuming.”
The Selbyville Town Council unanimously agreed on Jan. 7 to create a committee to study Hosier Street traffic. They will officially form that committee and appoint members at a later date.
By Laura Walter