Mountaire Farms was granted permission last week to build slightly beyond their property line into a neighboring property.
The poultry plant at 55 Hosier Street in Selbyville is already built up to their western property line, beside the Maryland & Delaware Railroad Company’s property. This month, they requested a variance from the Selbyville Board of Adjustment to build into their — and the railroad’s — side setbacks for a lean-to canopy that will cover the exterior entrance to the facility’s cafeteria.
In fact, it’s more of an extension of the existing canopy nearby, said Mountaire project engineer Greg Esham. The canopy itself measures 27 feet long, 13 feet wide and 12 feet tall.
Mountaire is also planning to pour new concrete over an aging asphalt pad. But, ultimately, they’re not paving over anything that wasn’t covered before.
The Board of Adjustment can grant variances for property owners who demonstrate there is some unnecessary hardship or exceptional practical difficulties in following the zoning code exactly. The Jan. 24 public hearing on the request lasted less than 20 minutes.
It’s rare for a property owner to request a setback variance for its neighbor’s land, said Town Council Member Clarence W. “Bud” Tingle Jr. But, as the governing agency, Selbyville isn’t concerned with Mountaire leasing land from the railroad.
“That’s between them and the property owner,” said Town Solicitor Mary Schrider-Fox. “We just have to think about whether their request meets the standard for setback variance.”
Mountaire’s Amanda Irwin suggested the plant was already built up to the property line some 40 years ago, when Mountaire purchased it. Tingle agreed that the town code probably didn’t even have commercial setbacks initially, so, he said, he considered this application as an existing use.
It’s an usual property, and Mountaire has no choice but to build over property line because, in essence, they already have, Schrider-Fox concluded.
The variance was unanimously approved, so Mountaire can continue pursuing its building permit for the structure. There was no dissent from the public or the railroad company. There is a 30-day appeal period, per state law.
Although they’re waiting for the 30-day appeals window to pass before they consider starting construction, Mountaire has already submitted a building permit request.
By Laura Walter