Archive for: December 9th, 2017

Local Government
Council considers changes to FRLP’s 320-unit proffer package
December 9, 2017
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Town Planning Director Jeremy Camp, at far left, goes over power point of proposed FRLP proffer changes on a 320-residential unit project on town’s east side. Photos/Roger Bianchini

Beyond the maze of numbers presented to council on financing options on a two-pronged $16.5-million capital improvement project envisioned to be completed within the next two years, it was a busy December 4 work session for the Front Royal Town Council.

Like a decision on financing construction of a new police headquarters and road improvements on the town’s east side, see related story three other agenda items involve the future physical and fiscal shape of the Town of Front Royal.  Those topics included infrastructure construction to facilitate commercial redevelopment at the former Avtex Superfund site and acquisition of an acceptable bid on construction of a new Criser Road low-water bridge.  We will explore those two items in an upcoming story.

Here we will explore a fourth work session topic crucial to the town’s future look – development dynamics on as many as 320 residential units on 149 acres of Front Royal Limited Partnership (FRLP) property on the town’s east side.  FRLP owns another 604 acres, also on the town’s east side off Happy Creek Road in the vicinity of Mary’s Shady Lane.  That larger parcel was brought into the town limits in a friendly 2014 annexation process with Warren County.  The 604 acres has a maximum buildout of 818 residential units, though actual numbers will be approved, likely in phases during future rezoning applications.

FRLP’s 320-unit project

The original proffer package on the 149-acre parcel already in the town limits was negotiated in 2010.  The bulk of the proposed changes, which were recommended for approval by the town planning commission on November 15, remove “dollar for dollar credits” offered to the developer by the Town, in exchange for removal of some cash proffers offered to the Town by the developer.  The concept is to essentially create a “push” as it’s called in gambling circles, between the two.

Among the credits proposed for deletion are: tap fee payments over $10,000; land value costs on both right-of-way for the access road to the property and piece of land along Shenandoah Shores Road needed for future road improvements in the vicinity of the development; and on engineering and construction costs associated with Phases 2 to 4 of an East-West connector road running through the property, if the Town follows through on construction of Phase 5 of that road.

Town Planning Director Jeremy Camp explained to us that that latter road-associated credit could equal or exceed all of FRLP’s proposed cash proffers.  He also noted that removal of the tap fee credit locks FRLP into paying the going rate on tap fees, a rate currently in the vicinity of $15,000.

“Under the proposed proffers, FRLP would still be obligated to build and dedicate ROW for the portion of the access road (east-west connector) on their 149 acres,” Camp explained to Royal Examiner, further noting that, “As proposed, the rest of the road would be addressed with the future 604 acres.”

And while the majority of cash proffers to the Town will be removed in the proposal, proffers related to impacts on the public school student population are not affected at all.

Of the proposed changes as a whole, Camp told Royal Examiner, “The existing proffers have some degree of balance between credits the Town pays FRLP and cash proffers paid to the Town by FRLP.  Both the credits and cash proffers are proposed to be removed and FRLP would simply build what they are required to by Town Code and pay the County their cash proffer towards schools.

FRLP principal David Vazzana, yellow shirt, and project consultant Bill Barnett to his right, at the Dec. 4 work session.

Local News
VDOT: Roads prepped Friday for season’s first snow
December 9, 2017
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A snow plow sits ready to roll at the Stephens City VDOT yard. /Photos by Norma Jean Shaw

STAUNTON –Snow was falling on many parts of the Shenandoah Valley early Saturday morning and was forecast to continue through the afternoon. Virginia Department of Transportation spokesperson Sandy Myers says VDOT has crews deployed throughout the Staunton District to plow or treat roads as needed.

While roadways are primarily reported to be wet, some areas of snow or slush are possible – especially on elevated surfaces such as bridges and overpasses.

Myers said in a Saturday morning email that VDOT performed anti-icing operations on Shenandoah Valley interstate and some primary roads during the day on Friday.

The Staunton District, according to Myers, has a $15.6 million snow-removal budget, which is part of the district’s overall maintenance budget this fiscal year of $130.5 million.

While VDOT is responsible for clearing all state-maintained roads, interstates and major highways, such as U.S. Routes 340/522 have priority over lesser-traveled roads and streets. Myers said the VDOT goal is to make all roads passable within 48 hours of a storm’s end.

The Town of Front Royal is charged with clearing its own streets.

Clifton Balderson, VDOT’s Edinburg residency administrator, said in a recent visit to the Stephens City VDOT facility that snow removal crews work 24/7 to keep the commonwealth’s roads safe and passable under wintry conditions.

A salt brine mixing tank at the Stephens City VDOT yard. 12 tanks hold the prepared brine until it is needed.

At the Stephens City location, VDOT produces salt brine, which prevents snow and ice from sticking to the pavement when used as a pre-treatment before the storm.

Salt is VDOT’s primary snow-removal and ice-control chemical, but it works at 27 degrees or above.. If the temperature dips below 27 degrees, the salt will not melt the frozen precipitation, and abrasives and calcium chloride must be used.

For winter weather road conditions go to 511 VIRGINIA, on the orange bar at the top of the page, click on “Text Views” and then click on “Road Condition Table”. Look at the pull-down box that lists all jurisdictions, then select a county to check road conditions.

VDOT offers a free 511 app for android or IOS mobile phones. Traffic alerts and traveler information can be obtained by dialing 511. Go to Free Virginia 511 Tools to get your 511 app.

The VDOT Customer Service Center can be accessed through its mobile-friendly website at VDOT website. Agents are on site 24/7 365 days a year to assist the public. Motorists can also call the VDOT Customer Service Center at 800-FOR- ROAD (800-367-7623).

The Staunton District Snow Page is on the VDOT website under Travel Center Snow Emergency Pages. The Staunton District Twitter feed is at @VaDOTStaunton.

The VDOT Web page  is located at VDOT website.

Local News
Operation Blue Christmas brings cheer to seniors and youngsters
December 9, 2017
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Foundation volunteers and Front Royal Police officers visit a local nursing home, bringing gifts and cheer to its residents in Dec. 2016. / Photo by Norma Jean Shaw

FRONT ROYAL – Officers of the Front Royal Police Department and the nonprofit, volunteer organization the Front Royal Police Foundation are gearing up for two holiday events for which they plan all year long.

Operation Blue Christmas is a project that allows the FRPD to partner with the Front Royal Elks Lodge and provide a party, complete with gifts and a visit from Santa, for children who might not other have a Christmas gift. Officers will be at the Elks Lodge on Saturday, December 9th,  helping pass out gifts, visiting with the children and their families.

Foundation President Patti Baggarly said that the children have already been identified and shopped for by the Elks, and the police officers would be on hand to help the Elks with the party.

“The Officers enjoy spending time with these young ones, the future of our Town, playing games and enjoying a meal together. Talk about smiles!” Baggarly said.

Captain Ryman said the officers enjoy meeting the families as they help Santa deliver gifts, and it demonstrates to the children that police officers are a part of the community and are not just there for when trouble occurs and help is needed.

For the third year, officers and board members will visit two local nursing homes, taking gifts to the residents and staff. Though it is difficult to schedule a time to visit –between shift-work, court appearances and days off – the past two years have seen a large contingent of officers who were delighted to visit the seniors, spend time visiting and posing for photos with the seniors.

The visits will occur on Dec. 14.

Captain Ryman said, “The nursing home visits made some of the officer’s Christmases. It’s clear to see that some of the seniors had not had a visitor for some time, and seeing the joy on the residents’ faces means a lot.

The staff is so welcoming and excited for us to visit their residents—it’s a small undertaking for us, in terms of time and resources, and it means a great deal to us and to those whom we visit. We couldn’t coordinate this without the great work of the foundation.”

The Front Royal Police Foundation is a non-profit 501c3 volunteer organization comprised of citizens who work to raise funds for department needs that are beyond what the town budget can fully support.

The board spends 95-percent of all donated funds; the remaining five-percent is spent on overhead, such as stationery, postage, etc.

Items funded by the Front Royal Police Foundation in the past include: a K9 vehicle, K9 training and a kennel, defensive tactics training equipment, gym equipment and travel expenses for out of state training, as well as funding support for community projects such as National Night Out.

For more information about supporting the Foundation with a tax-deductible donation, or becoming a member, see the Facebook page here: Front Royal Police Foundation Facebook page.

 

Interesting Things You Need to Know
Picking a plane that will arrive on time
December 9, 2017
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You have a better chance of your plane arriving on time if you follow some simple rules of thumb in choosing your flight.

– Choose a 737 over a 757.
– Avoid planes with fancy lie-flat seats that are often the cause of delays.
– Choose a large carrier.
– Choose younger planes over older planes.

According to a recent analysis by The Wall Street Journal, it is possible to avoid some delays by picking a particular type of aircraft and carrier for the flight. United’s 737s, for example, arrived on time 82 percent of the time versus only 70 percent with their 757s.
Bigger carriers avoid delays by having additional planes waiting in reserve that are in the same family as the originals. Carriers routinely swap planes out when there are problems or delays. These swaps are quite easy if the aircraft are the same because the seating arrangements and flight crews will be the same as well.

Having many different kinds of planes on a route reduces the amount of flexibility carriers have with those swaps and leads to more cancellations and delays.

When it comes to individual plane reliability, a carrier’s maintenance protocol can dramatically affect the amount of downtime it will experience. Case in point; a comparison of on-time arrival rate between the same aircraft from Delta and American showed that the former boasted 82.8 percent versus 69.1 percent for the latter. The reason for this considerable difference revolves around how Delta uses data to predict which parts are likely to break in the future but also actively redesign parts and proactively replace them ahead of recommendations. They also use traveling maintenance bases to go to where the aircraft sit overnight rather than wasting flight time by bringing them into headquarters.