Selbyville zoning change only sounds complicated

The Selbyville Town Council is trying to close some loopholes with changes to their zoning code.

Every zoning district has uses by right, from the residential district to the historic business  district and the industrial park, and everything in between. On Nov. 4, the council unanimously voted to finish removing the detailed lists of special-use exceptions and conditional uses, which require different permits.

The text is wordy, but the intent is straightforward: the town council wants more eyes on the applications.

“It doesn’t stop anybody from getting a permit. It’s just the way you go about it. It gives the Town a little bit more control,” said Mayor Clifton Murray.

“This way, they can come before the council and explain exactly what they want to do,” Councilman G. Frank Smith III had previously said.

And then town council can put conditions on it, if needed.

The town council had already removed the list of “special-use exceptions” from each of their many zoning districts. This month, they also removed the list of “conditional uses” from each district. Then they inserted a general provision that allows for conditional uses to be granted in each district.

Previously, even if someone wanted to install an emergency mobile home or a bed-and-breakfast in the Multifamily Residential (MR) district, the code still wanted approval from the Board of Adjustment (which also handles other variance requests, such as building in a property’s setbacks).

The town council decided they should be reviewing these unique requests, especially since they and the Planning & Zoning Commission already review each conditional-use request.

“We have a Board of Adjustment. … Some of these special-use exceptions are really tough for three people to make a decision on,” the mayor said.

For instance, during a particularly tricky summertime Board of Adjustment hearing, Council Member Clarence “Bud” Tingle Jr. commented that he would rather get town council input before casting his vote on a variance application. But that was not advisable, said Town Solicitor Mary Schrider-Fox, because a Board of Adjustment is a separate, independent legal entity from a town council. It’s not a subcommittee.

 

No-Shave November

 

Selbyville Police Department officers are participating in “No-Shave November.” Individuals donate $25 per week in order to grow their beards and facial hair. Funds will benefit cancer research.

“Is that why you haven’t shaved?” asked Jay Murray.

“Yep,” said Chief W. Scott Collins. “We had to suspend our policy to allow it.”

Also, Selbyville’s newest police officer has completed his Selbyville field training, so he’s now able to patrol solo.

By this time next year, Collins said, he hopes that the Selbyville Police Department will be state accredited by the DPAC (Delaware Police Accreditation Commission). That could possibly reduce insurance premiums. About a dozen agencies are state-accredited, and a handful of large agencies are nationally accredited, Collins said.

“We’ve reached the manpower level now and the complaint level that it makes sense for us to work toward that accreditation,” Collins said.

The town’s new municipal building will allow SPD to better meet the state requirements.

 

Serious planning for the future

 

Selbyville is in the process of drafting the new update of its 10-Year Comprehensive Plan. Delaware requires the document of every municipal government. It is a study and vision of the Town’s goals and approaches for the next decade.

Like many municipalities, the Town hired a company to do some of the legwork. In a joint meeting of the Planning & Zoning Commission and Town Council in October (which was essentially just the town council members, mayor and one additional commissioner), officials brainstormed some of their goals for the future.

Once the first draft is released, the public will have time to review it and offer feedback, until about Jan. 27. There will also be an official public hearing before the Town submits their final drafts to the State.

 

Mountaire talks road safety

 

Mountaire Farms will submit an official request later, but they received positive feedback on an idea to install up to six bollards on the curb to prevent people from walking into the street around their downtown Selbyville plant. Their ultimate goal will be to install two designated crosswalks and funnel pedestrians to safer crossing zones.

There was also discussion on legal parking for Mountaire staff and trucks. Mountaire barely has room to park all their tractor-trailers on the weekends, so they’re even driving some up to the Millsboro factory.

“It’s a big puzzle piece. I don’t have a solution other than ‘It doesn’t work for us.’ I don’t like it either,” said Mountaire’s Amanda Irwin, in response to town council complaints about trucks not going into designated spots. “I turn myself in to Stacey [Long, town administrator], so she knows we are policing it.”

The Selbyville Town Council’s next regular meeting will be Monday, Dec. 2, at 7 p.m.

 

By Laura Walter
Staff Reporter