Glenn has more than one town to manage
By Annette C. Silva
Delmar citizens are proud of their motto, "The little town too big for one state." They celebrate their beginnings as two sides of a municipality divided by a boulevard - the Bi-State.
They owe their existence to a railroad - the Delaware Railroad - that extended its track south to the Delaware/Maryland border in 1859 where merchants from two states took advantage of economic opportunity. Now Delmar's municipal partnership faces a modern challenge - how to grow effectively - with two sets of codes and regulations, two forms of city government and two mayors.
Roberta Glenn, Delmar town manager, talked a little about growth, development and revamping the town's infrastructure as Delmar anticipates inevitable growth and change for its future.
"We've experienced a growth spurt since the early 1990s," said Glenn, a former grants writer from Berlin, Md. She listed four new Delmar residential projects on the drawing board:
-Villas II at Delmar Crossing - 24 units for the elderly - "which we need for our residents that can no longer take care of their homes."
-A subdivision of single-family homes (approximately 25 to 35 lots) on land owned by Curtis Hearne. Glenn said Hearne is in the process of working out a purchase agreement with ERA Martin & Associates in Salisbury.
-The Breckenridge subdivision on Foskey Lane, which consists of 43 lots for single-family homes. Site work is under construction with a five-year build-out plan.
-Meadows Edge on Maryland Avenue. Plans and site review are being reviewed in Phase I by the Delmar planning and zoning committee for approximately 50 single-family homes. Dennis Baumgartner is the engineer and Danny Mazera is the property owner.
New businesses coming to Delmar by the end of the year, according to Glenn, are the following:
-Stone Mountain Carpets (adjacent to the Food Lion Shopping Plaza)
-Dollar General Store (beside Nappa on Rt. 13, Md)
-Delmarva Baseball. Final site review in process; construction will start in the
"Everything gets a very careful review before we approve it," Glenn said.
One of the problems in a small town is getting residents to accept outside developers. "People are generally wary of developers and 'outsiders'," she said. "We try to get them to understand that because of rising costs and environmental requirements for basic services, we have to encourage growth in order to earn revenue to keep taxes and fees from increasing."
Glenn, who has been Delmar town manager since 1991, said she loves her job. "There's always something going on." Final responsibility for many services rests at her desk. Street maintenance and lighting, parks, police, water, wastewater, solid waste (trash), administration of taxes and utilities, monthly financial statements and annual budgets, just to name a few areas, are included in her charge.
In July she counted 12 days on her calendar that did not include a night meeting. There are council meetings, commission meetings, utility commission meetings, police commission meetings, joint council meetings, planning and zoning meetings and special hearings.
"A big part of my job is handling citizens' concerns. This is a community of wonderful people but when people live in close proximity to each other, there are always conflicts."
Glenn said a seemingly small issue can end up being a complicated problem involving two or three codes. It cannot be treated lightly. She has spent a lot of time over the years researching two sets of codes and regulations for answers, she said. Glenn also meets with business and economic development groups to learn about implementing and attracting the best kind of growth for the town.
"Right now, the main focus of the council and commission has to be on getting our entire infrastructure taken care of and up to EPA standards," she said. The new water treatment plant, tower and meter systems are in place. In the fall they'll be 'pigging' the older water lines to make sure there are no traces of lead and copper washing through. And they need to sand blast and paint the old water tower. Then our water system will be good for the next 10 years."
The next big project involves work (and expenditure) on the wastewater treatment plant to meet the EPA's TMDL (total maximum daily load) limit of phosphorous and nitrogen that leaches into the watershed. Another of Glenn's goals is to try to get more people to use the town's two recycling centers. "Our solid waste collection (garbage and trash) fees went up recently because the solid waste amounts are increasing in excess of the percentage of users."
The town has to pay higher fees to landfills and that cost inevitably falls to the citizens. "But even if it weren't for the fees, we should be recycling more just to save the land for future generations."