An exceptionally light Front Royal Town Council meeting agenda for Monday evening, February 10, was extended by 90 minutes of public comments, largely criticisms, regarding a Fiscal Year 2021 Budget proposal tied to a significant downsizing of the Town governmental function.
That, that budget proposal included five immediate staff terminations, including three department heads, all of whose jobs were funded through the current fiscal year ending June 30, did not sit well with 20 of 24 speakers. Two of those 24 addressing the budget-staffing issue took middle ground stances, defending town staff and council while suggesting they take into consideration what the public feedback, particularly as it applies to tourism and downtown business development, had to say.
The more aggressive public criticism of council and its appointed interim town manager echoed comments and questions heard at the public meeting at the Front Royal Brewery on January 30, the day after the five terminations, including Council Clerk Jennifer Berry, who was present at Monday’s meeting, went public.
Those critical comments and questions covered:
1 – the seeming lack of an immediate plan to replace the functions of the terminated town planning director, community development director and town engineer;
2 – why five positions covered in the existing budget year were terminated immediately for a budget plan not yet approved, and one that would not be implemented until the July 1 beginning of the next fiscal year?
3 – who the actual beneficiaries of these cutbacks and outsourcing plans are, and to what end – such as weakening the Town to facilitate past initiatives of the interim town manager like eventual consolidation with the county government, or extension of Town water-sewer outside the town limits for private sector residential development; 4/ negative impacts on tourism marketing by the planned outsourcing of the tourism function to the private sector (these public remarks will be explored in more detail in a future story).
Three speakers addressed other issues, two for a 2nd Amendment sanctuary resolution slated for discussion at a work session to follow the meeting, and local builder Chris Ramsey on issues he has brought before council at recent work sessions regarding tap fee policies as they apply to his projects in town.
The 2nd Amendment Sanctuary work session discussion was cancelled when council unanimously endorsed Letasha Thompson’s motion to add approval of that gun rights resolution to the meeting agenda. Council then unanimously endorsed the resolution, precluding the necessity for additional work session discussion.
Also removed from the agenda was a closed session personnel discussion of “consideration of assignment, appointment, promotion, performance, demotion, salaries, disciplining, or resignation of specific public officers, appointees, or employees of any public body pursuant to Section 2.2-3711. A. 1. of the Code of Virginia”.
Two other additions to the meeting agenda were also accepted and unanimously endorsed, approval of a $24,500 contract with Baker Tilley to conduct the executive search for a permanent town manager; and acceptance of an anonymous $500 contribution to a Town scholarship fund to be included in the town budget. Approval of the Baker Tilley executive search contract was removed from a one-item special meeting agenda a week earlier.
Early departures & rebuttal
But the real action Monday night was the public criticism of the Town departmental downsizing plan and interim town manager and council blowback to that criticism. Perhaps unfortunately, the bulk of the public who spoke against the Town downsizing plan or were there in support of that criticism were not present to hear council’s and Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick’s response to their criticism.
With only the executive search contract approval remaining on the as-yet un-amended agenda, most of that contingent of critics left during a break called by Mayor Gene Tewalt after the final public speaker concluded their remarks around 8:30 p.m., an hour and a half into the meeting. That crowd apparently did not realize the meeting agenda’s town manager and council reports would be utilized to respond to the public criticism of the downsizing plan.
Those town officials’ responses offered fiscally conservative rationales in support of the downsizing plan as an alternative to tax hikes that would be necessary to support $29 million in infrastructure capital improvements in the coming budget year.
Councilman Chris Holloway pointed to capital improvements like the redundant water line to the north corridor in the new budget dating back 10 years to his first stint on council. Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock said some of the infrastructure improvements proposed in the new budget had been on the table for two years. What seemed apparent from council comments was a past reluctance to raise taxes to provide revenue to support some of these infrastructure improvements in past budget cycles. But with state mandates on the horizon forcing the Town’s hand on some fixes, including Intake & Inflow (I&I) issues with the wastewater and sewer systems; as well as the long-deteriorating state of town roads becoming more of a public issue, FY 2021 appears the budget year of reckoning on proposed capital improvements.
Tederick criticized those speaking against the plan for not presenting an alternative that wouldn’t put an undue burden on town taxpayers. That tax increases to pay for necessary infrastructure improvements was not seen as a viable option was apparent in multiple council and staff comments. The interim town manager presented statistics indicating that the town budget had outpaced population growth in recent years as an indicator town operational expenses were unjustifiably high.
Tederick has used the term “right-sizing” to describe the council-favored municipal downsizing, immediate termination and outsourcing plan presented through his office. And from various council rebuttal remarks Monday it appears council is on board with that assessment. In fact, during his response Councilman Jacob Meza pointed to council’s unanimous support of changes in the function of town government.
“But it is interesting when you have a council that is making unanimous votes on changes, uh, you got to stop to ask yourself how, you know, six people who don’t work together, don’t necessarily socialize or hang out together, all can come to the same conclusion for better change for the Town of Front Royal. It’s not like you have a split council here,” Meza stated without elaborating on when and in what context any unanimous votes took place related to the object of public concerns brought to council’s attention Monday night.
However, in their responses to the overwhelming negative public comment at least two council members, Letasha Thompson and Chris Holloway, appeared willing to at least reconsider the outsourcing of the Town’s tourism marketing and operational function.
Tederick seemed to invoke the spirit of Richard Nixon when he referenced positive feedback from what he called a “silent majority” of supporters of the council-endorsed downsizing plan. “Silent Majority” was a term popularized by Nixon in 1969 as a reference to Americans who did not demonstrate against the Vietnam War, but also did not make their opinion, ostensibly in support of the war, known publicly.
As for the “vocal minority” of two public speakers expressing outright support of council, the interim town manager and the downsizing plan Monday, they were Warren County Republican Committee Treasurer Amber Poe Morris and Wendy Kurtz, wife of the current successor to Tederick’s past stint as chairman of the Warren County Republican Committee, Steve Kurtz.
Both lauded the Republican Committee-majority council and Interim Town Manager Tederick, who is currently listed as the county Republicans’ Finance Committee Chairman, for being proactive in reducing municipal costs.
Morris invoked an analogy to the current Republican president when she told Tederick, “You seem to have become the (Donald) Trump of Front Royal. You have done the job you were asked to do; you were appointed to do. You were asked to clean some stuff up. You work at the instruction of the council and there is conspiracy theory after conspiracy theory and downright accusations of personal attacks thrown at you every single day since you’ve been in your position.”
Poe echoed the three other public speakers who were complimentary of Tederick and his stint as interim town manager when she observed, “And despite being very receptive to answering public comments every time you’re asked or confronted, and you’ve done so with humility. Thank you for being fiscally conservative and working as the government should. The interim town manager works at the discretion of the elected town council members,” she noted before concluding with a plug for the crowd gathered in support of the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary initiative, saying, “So, I’m looking forward to the Town of Front Royal becoming a 2nd Amendment sanctuary,” drawing applause and hoots of support from the 2nd Amendment crowd, including some in matching camouflage militia gear.
Mrs. Kurtz was critical of the questions about Tederick’s motives about the town downsizing as relating to his past support of consolidation with the County government or a desire to acquire Town water-sewer utilities in support of private-sector residential development in the county’s north corridor.
Several council members also cited public support from people they alleged were fearful of expressing their opinions publicly due to possible threats from those critical of the downsizing plan. Social media threats on Facebook were cited, including by newly appointed council member Lori Athey Cockrell. She pointed to a social media post calling for the burning down of council members houses or the breaking into their homes or vehicles.
See the public criticism and the interim town manager and council responses to that criticism in these two exclusive Royal Examiner videos, the first containing the entire public comments portion of the meeting, the second starting with the interim town manager and council responses to what they heard from the public.
Highlights include Jacob Meza’s repeated points of order called in response to what he felt were too personal public criticisms violating meeting rules; and public counterpoints to those points of order calls, including one citing Meza’s and Holloway’s personal work session criticisms of the mayor a week earlier and another stating “I think the U.S. Constitution trumps Robert’s Rules of Order. – Get the popcorn:
Town Planning Commission, Town Council Advance A.S. Rhodes Temporary Classroom Project
In a unique shared session, the Town Planning Commission and the Front Royal Town Council combined forces to quickly approve the temporary siting of modular classrooms at A.S. Rhodes Elementary School on Strasburg Road, as part of the larger renovation project that will soon be underway. There were no public comments regarding the request.
School officials and project managers answered questions from the Planning Commission and Council members regarding the temporary classrooms. Commissioner Dr. Cee Ann Davis asked if the Project Team had consulted with the County Health Department regarding the modular building. Acting Superintendent Melody Sheppard acknowledged they had not. Once the commission had completed its questioning, the Commission unanimously approved the request, leading to an unusual lateral pass of the request to the Town Council.
Councilman Lori Cockrell informed the Mayor that she would be abstaining from discussions or votes regarding the School request due to her 30-year career in the School Department. Councilman Chris Holloway voiced concern about student traffic between the modular classrooms and restrooms in the school itself. He questioned the WCPS representatives closely about the location of restrooms in relation to the proposed structure. When a council motion for approval was offered By Councilman Letasha Thompson, seconded by Councilman Bill Sealock, Councilman Holloway offered an amendment to the approval motion that would have required School Officials to add the requirement for restrooms within the modular structure itself. His amendment died for a lack of votes before the original motion went on to approval.
Following the approval of the A.S. Rhodes project by both the Planning Commission and the Town Council, Chairman Doug Jones, and Mayor Eugene Tewalt adjourned their respective bodies, and each met separately for work sessions.
The Town Planning Commission Work Session was largely devoted to a preliminary review and discussion of a potential new facility for the House of Hope, a service to homeless men in Front Royal. The commission received a presentation on the mission and objectives of the Program, feedback from the Commission members regarding necessary steps in working with the town to provide an improved facility for its services. Commissioner Daryl Merchant urged the House of Hope representatives to seek a location that was compatible with Town zoning ordinances. Planning Staff was asked to research property and zoning to support the commission in evaluating future requests.
Aaron Hike from Hike Construction then addressed the commission regarding a project to build a set of townhouses on a lot currently occupied by a blighted house. The lot proved to be slightly smaller than would allow the construction, and the company hoped to either to reduce the side setback through a zoning variance or to propose a zoning ordinance amendment to reduce the minimum width of a townhouse from 20 to 18 feet. They had also initiated an action with the Board of Zoning Appeals for the variance in addition to their presenting a proposal to the Planning Commission to amend the zoning ordinance.
Commissioner Merchant clarified that amending the zoning ordinance to accommodate a smaller lot size would conflict with the requirement for each townhouse to provide two parking spaces a minimum of 10 feet in width. The discussion then centered on the need for planning staff to research what an amendment to the zoning ordinance would entail. The commission agreed that language for an ordinance change would be the likely next step for the Commission to consider. Commissioner Davis reminded the attendees of unintended consequences of ordinance changes.
The commission members then discussed various strategies for helping continuing services during a period of reduced staffing at the Town Planning Department. The town is currently recruiting for a Director of Community Development and Planning.
Watch the joint meeting in this first Royal Examiner video and the Planning Commission work session in the second.
Council majority moves to lock in half-cent real estate tax decrease
Perhaps the most telling moment in the Front Royal Town Council’s multi-faceted Wednesday evening did not occur at a Special Joint Meeting with its Planning Commission called to facilitate permitting to allow the installation of modular classrooms to allow A.S. Rhodes renovation work to proceed on schedule, nor during a dizzying council work session discussion of financial variables that threaten to jeopardize a $700,000 matching State/Federal funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) committed to physical redevelopment of downtown business frontages and the Village Commons and Gazebo area.
While those two discussions dominated much of the council’s attention, it was a third discussion near the work session’s end related to the funding of the coming Fiscal Year 2021 budget that was an eye-opener on the council’s thought process for the coming budget cycle.
Despite ongoing uncertainty among some on council about the plan to privatize and outsource the Town’s Tourism marketing function in the wake of scathing public and impacted business owner criticism of that plan; and the seemingly unavoidable presence of $29 million in physical capital improvements in the coming budget year, a 5-1 council majority committed to advertising a Real Estate Tax Rate of 13 cents per $100 of assessed value in the coming year.
That rate will maintain Interim Town Manager Matt Tederick and the council majority’s desire to implement a half-cent Real Estate Tax rate cut in next year’s budget. Tederick has commented that implementation of a tax cut despite the coming capital improvement needs will be a sign of the Town’s economic strength despite the $15 million in lost assets it has thus far claimed in the Economic Development Authority (EDA) financial scandal.
Only Vice-Mayor Bill Sealock asked that council at least keep the option of maintaining the existing 13.5-cent Real Estate Tax Rate and Town governmental revenue stream where it is. Sealock explained he had serious concerns about the plan to outsource the Town Tourism function and suggested the $64,000-plus of revenue that half-cent of Real Estate Tax would provide could help fund Visitors Center operations in the next budget year.
As Mayor Gene Tewalt noted in also expressing a desire to keep the flat tax rate option open, once advertised a tax rate can be adjusted down, but not up. Following the work session, Town Finance Director B. J. Wilson told Royal Examiner that one option available should it become apparent that the Town will need to keep its current revenue stream to fund coming fiscal year capital improvements and operations, would be to re-advertise a tax rate higher than the 13-cent one currently poised to be put forward.
However, several council comments seemed to indicate that as an unlikely option.
Newly-appointed Councilwoman Lori Athey Cockrell said she was in favor of “keeping taxes as low as they can (be)” in voicing support for the half-cent real estate tax decrease being committed to this early in the budget process.
Then Jacob Meza pointed a path forward for council should it do an about-face on the Tourism Department – that path cuts to other town governmental functions to allow the half-cent Real Estate Tax reduction to stand.
“If the council wants to change something, I’d rather instead of keeping tax rates high or increasing taxes, figure out what other areas of the budget need to go … I want the council to find the areas that we’re willing to do without or willing to change. So again, if Tourism is the hot-topic button right now if that’s the direction the council wants to go, fine. Let’s figure out what other reductions we can have in the budget … because I can support some of the changes that we’ve made whereas the justifications were reducing some of our tax bases, not find other reasons to spend the money and increase it again,” Meza said.
Following Meza’s call to reduce the town governmental function in some, even as-yet-undetermined way, rather than keep tax revenue at existing levels, Mayor Tewalt polled council on its preference on a rate to advertise. And as noted above, only Sealock expressed support of keeping the option of a flat Real Estate Tax open to the council as a means of funding the Visitors Center function.
Beginning with Cockrell’s call to keep tax rates as low as possible in support of the 13-cent rate advertisement, Gary Gillespie, Letasha Thompson, Meza, and Chris Holloway all concurred to advertise the 13-cent rate, cementing in the $64,629 of lost Town revenue in the coming budget year.
The following day we called Town Finance Director Wilson to see where the Town of Front Royal ranks statewide with its municipal real estate tax rate. While he did not have specific rankings, Wilson noted that the Median Real Estate Tax Rate for Virginia towns is 17 cents per $100 of assessed value. So, the Town’s existing 13.5-cent rate was 3.5 cents below the Virginia town median; the proposed cut will take that to 4 cents below the median level.
According to staff numbers included in the work session agenda packet, the revenue produced at the 13.5-cent real estate tax rate in FY 2020 was $1,744,970. The proposed FY 2021, 13-cent rate will provide $1,680,341, or as observed above, a $64,629 reduction.
Council decided to keep the Personal Property Tax rate flat at 64 cents per $100 of assessed value. That rate provided $597,872 of tax revenue to the Town last year.
See the full Town Council-Planning Commission Special Meeting and council work session in linked Royal Examiner videos:
EDA: Request for qualifications for the provision of an FY18 and FY19 audit
The Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority (“EDA”) is soliciting proposals for Auditor Services (“Services”). Sealed proposals for this work will be accepted until Friday, March 6, 2020, at 12:00 p.m.
Please submit one (1) original and three (3) copies of your proposal in a sealed envelope marked “Auditor Services,” with the Proposer’s name and address marked on the outside of the sealed envelope, no later than 12:00 p.m. EST, Friday March 6, 2020.
Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority
P.O. Box 445
Front Royal, VA 22630
ATTN: Gretchen Henderson, Administrative Assistant
Questions regarding this Request for Qualifications (“RFQ”) should be directed to:
Doug Parsons, Executive Director,
Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority
Local pro-militia group vows to support, protect
A band of local 2nd Amendment advocates concerned about the Commonwealth’s proposed gun safety laws returned to state their cause during the Warren County Board of Supervisors (BOS) February 18 meeting.
“A few weeks ago, I actually delivered a resolution to you all,” said Sam Haun of Front Royal, Va., during the general public comment period of the BOS meeting. “I’m not going to beat a dead horse and ask you to pick it back up, however, there is a group locally that has been operating out of Warren County and we’re trying to maintain 100 percent transparency for everybody.”
In fact, Haun brought that proposed resolution — which seeks “Promoting the Order of Militia Within Warren County” — to BOS members during their January 7 meeting, saying it is a Constitutional right for Warren County citizens to have a militia. The BOS to date has not acted on the resolution.
“We’ve even gone so far as to meet with the local sheriff’s department, the town police department and we’re making arrangements now with the local fire department and EMS for additional training for all the members,” said Haun.
At the same time, Haun told the supervisors that he wanted to keep them in the loop about what his group is doing as it progresses.
“The way that things are going, we don’t want to pick up a bad name, so every few weeks, once we’ve accomplished something, we’ll come back and let you know exactly what’s going on,” he said. “That way, you feel a little bit better because you know what we’re doing, and it keeps us in the public view.”
Specifically, the proposed ordinance relates to State Senate Bill 35, which would grant local governments the authority to ban the possession of firearms in public spaces during events that require a permit, like protests. The Virginia Senate in December 2019 passed the bill, 21-19, along with a party-line vote and the measure is under consideration by the Virginia House of Delegates.
After traveling on February 17 to Richmond, Va., to hear debates on the proposed legislation and to speak with district representatives, Aldrich told the supervisors that he was putting forth what he called “a simple proposed ordinance” that would “handle Senate Bill 35.”
Aldrich said the ordinance states: “The County shall not exercise any ordinance pursuant to Virginia 15.2-915 Section E and Section F.”
“That literally eliminates [the] bill even being an issue here” in Warren County, he said.
Board Chairman Walter Mabe, who represents the Shenandoah District, asked that Aldrich provide them with a copy of the proposed ordinance, which Aldrich agreed to email.
“Our goal is to improve the community, bring the community together, and protect it at the same time,” Aldrich said about the pro-militia group.
For example, during recent flooding in Tazewell County, Va., Aldrich said guys from their group were dispatched to bring supplies — including water, blankets and food — to needy residents. A second group went down on February 17 with more supplies to help out, he said.
At that point during the comment period, Chairman Mabe said he had a question.
“The group that you’re trying to get together, I understand that, and I understand you working with the sheriff,” said Mabe. “Are you working with other groups that are within the area that are trying to do exactly what it is that you’re trying to do?”
Earlier in the day on Tuesday, Mabe said he had spoken with another group that said it had never heard of Haun’s and Aldrich’s group. “I believe there has to be an effort put forth so that everybody knows what everybody is doing,” he said.
Mabe continued: “If I would want a militia — and I don’t like the word militia, everybody knows that, because it denotes a bad connotation — again, I would like to know who’s in charge, who’s funding it, who’s vetting it, and the 2,800 other questions I have about this very thing.”
Mabe also said that if the County were to “put people out there, they’ve got to be safe and we’ve got to protect the people who, honestly, don’t want a militia. If we don’t do that, we’re behind the curve.”
Additionally, according to the BOS chairman, communications must be key.
“I can’t emphasize enough how much you have to be involved with everybody so that you’re not confusing everybody,” he said.
Aldrich agreed and said his group has proposed an April volunteer day to the Town in which “we’re going to bring the volunteer community together,” including law enforcement from both the County and Town, 4-H, Boy Scouts, the fire department, and search and rescue, among others, so that everyone can share what they do and for their pro-militia group to recruit potential participants.
Haun added that he’s contacted other groups and plans to bring them together for a February 28 meeting, though he didn’t provide details. And he said he’s spoken with the sheriff about possibly running background checks locally rather than having to send potential members down to Richmond for them.
“If we bring the community together, we’re better off across the board, in my opinion,” said Aldrich.
“I believe this county is doing better,” Mabe said, “and it’s because of the new board and I believe we’re doing the right things. We have a request from the people who come in front of us to do the right thing, as well.
“The connotation that you’re putting forward is a tough situation and we have to get past that,” he added. “I don’t want to approve anything that I’m going to have to pay for that’s going to scare people.”
“And we wouldn’t ask you to pay for something that’s going to scare people,” Haun responded.
Similar to the pro-militia group’s stated goal, Mabe said he also wants to help the community and he also wants to remain involved. “And I’m happy to talk with you anytime, anytime. Just let me know,” he told them.
Watch the general public comment period of the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ February 18 meeting at the end of the meeting on this Royal Examiner video.
Public decries golf course proposal; Warren County supervisors listen
Local citizens prevailed in forcing members of the Warren County Board of Supervisors (BOS) to postpone action on a proposed golf course management agreement and lease during a public hearing at their February 18 meeting.
Specifically, the BOS postponed action on a proposal submitted by New Direction Golf Management Corp., which would manage and lease the County-owned and -operated Front Royal Golf Club for an annual $100,000 fee over an initial term of 36 months, with payments on the total due monthly, according to Warren County General Services Director Brandy Rosser.
At the end of the three-year term, New Direction also would have the option to extend the agreement and lease for another three-year term, with the annual fee dropping to $70,000 per year.
Many residents, however, denounced the BOS plan as a huge waste of money.
Kushner also wasn’t happy about a Warren County plan “to pay somebody to make money off a County property.”
“It just seems crazy to me,” he said. “Normally, when you lease something to somebody you get a return on it. As I understand it, the contractor is going to take the profit out of this. The County’s not going to get anything.”
Kushner suggested that the item not be considered during the Tuesday night meeting and that the BOS conduct further analysis “on whether we want to keep this property at all and save $100,000 and see if the County can get a tax benefit out of it in the future.”
He also suggested that if the BOS does go forward with the proposal, a profit-sharing provision be added to the contract.
Gabbert also said that while he didn’t know what the BOS could do with the municipal course, he suggested turning it into a large dog park.
Another speaker during the public hearing was Ginger Morrison Winkler of Charlottesville, Va., whose father Lynwood Morrison of Bentonville, Va., built both the local Shenandoah Valley Golf Club and the Bowling Green Country Club. Winkler said that she and her brother, Lynwood L. “Woody” Morrison Jr., continue to own and operate the Bowling Green Country Club.
Winkler acknowledged the legal implications associated with the Front Royal Golf Course, the property for which originally was gifted to the County with the stipulation that it remain a golf course. But, she said, “it seems out of control to keep this thing going.”
“I see it as a losing game,” she added.
Lynda McDonough of Linden, Va., also doesn’t think the proposed $100,000 yearly contract with New Direction is a good idea and asked that the BOS table the idea pending further consideration.
“Why can’t we just give it back to the family” who donated it, “and wash our hands of it,” McDonough asked the BOS.
On the other side of the situation was New Direction Golf Management President Mike Byrd, who told the BOS that it has “a wonderful asset in this community and unfortunately, it’s been a little under-utilized.”
In fact, according to data provided last night by Rosser, the Front Royal Golf Club has operated at an average yearly deficit of more than $100,000 from 2014 through 2018.
Nevertheless, Byrd said that New Direction has evaluated the course “very closely and we see that it could fit very nicely in this community, but most importantly, it’s going to be the leader in growing golf in this community.”
While there are plenty of golf holes in Warren County, he said, “what we need are a lot more golfers.”
Byrd thinks that under the leadership of New Direction, that’s exactly the goal that could be accomplished if the company’s submitted proposal is approved.
Kenneth Roko of Middletown, Va., a member of the County’s Front Royal Golf Club Advisory Committee, said the group has gone through several iterations of what would be the best choice for oversight of the County’s municipal golf course.
“We have part-time staff there and that’s fine and dandy,” he said, “but if we want to make it grow, we really need to have those who do it for a living perform that service.”
Roko said the committee looked at the economic implications of having a management company run the County’s golf course that could reduce expenditures while growing the game for the area.
“New Direction offers a unique approach,” he said. “They use technology, they use social media, and they’re very savvy … they do a good job of attracting people not just from the surrounding area but from” elsewhere, including Northern Virginia.
Roko noted that hiring New Direction also would save the County money when compared to the yearly deficit it’s experienced over the last several years.
Kushner, however, said there’s an option that hasn’t been considered yet: not having a golf course at the 902 Country Club Road location in Front Royal at all.
Interim Warren County Attorney Jason Ham told the BOS that the proposed management and lease agreement between the County and New Direction was tweaked during the last week or so since the January BOS work session when the proposal was first discussed. He said the contract is in an “acceptable position” for action.
After some discussion, North River District Supervisor Delores Oates motioned for the BOS to postpone the item until its March 3 meeting “so that we can delve into it further,” Oates said, adding that she’d also like to better understand the legal implications of the bequeathing of the golf course by reading the will and testament of the donators.
Tony Carter, supervisor representing the Happy Creek District, gave the motion a second with the entire Board of Supervisors, including Oates, Vice Chairwoman Cheryl Cullers, Chairman Walter Mabe and Fork District Supervisor Archie Fox voting unanimously to postpone their review.
In other action on public hearing items, the BOS also postponed action on a requested conditional use permit for a short-term tourist rental at 64 Rocky Lane in Front Royal, which is owned by Brian and Ann M. Conley of Bentonville, Va.
Board Vice Chairwoman Cullers forced the Board’s postponement of action on the Conley’s request explaining that she wanted assurances from a nearby neighbor that he is on board with the property being used as a short-term rental.
While the Warren County Planning Commission received a signed letter from neighbors Elwood and Barbara Wines in August 2019, Supervisor Cullers wants to authenticate that Mr. Wines actually signed and understood the document, which says he and his wife understand that the Conley’s cottage is less than the Warren County-required minimum distance of 100 feet, but that they don’t object to the conditional use permit.
“I don’t want to drag this out,” Cullers said, “but I want to be comfortable with it.”
The golf course management agreement and lease public hearing are in this first Royal Examiner video. The second video is the complete Board of Supervisors meeting of February 18, 2020.
Warren County budget process continues with requests from County Departments and Constitutional Officers: Airport, Sanitary Districts
The Warren County Board of Supervisors held their second budget work session regarding the FY 2020-2021 budget on Tuesday, February 11, 2020. In this meeting, the Board of Supervisors heard from County Departments and Constitutional Offices. All members of the Board of Supervisors were present for this second meeting. County Administrator Doug Stanley and Assistant County Administrator Bob Childress also attended this second meeting.
In part 6, Stanley gave a brief overview before the first request from Northwest Community Services presented their budget request, followed by the Warren County Sheriff’s Office.
In part 7, the Building Inspections/Permits, the 26th District Circuit Court and the Commissioner of the Revenue presented their budget requests to the Board of Supervisors.
In part 8, the Voter Registrar, County Treasurer, and Parks and Recreation presented their budget requests to the Board of Supervisors.
In part 9, the Clerk of the Court, Commonwealth’s Attorney and the Virginia Cooperative Extension presented their budget requests to the Board of Supervisors.
In part 10, Social Services and Fire and Rescue presented their budget requests to the Board of Supervisors.
In part 11, County Administration, General Services and the Planning Department presented their budget requests to the Board of Supervisors.
In part 12 we wrap up the second budget meeting with budget requests from Airport Services and the Sanitary Districts. This part is a long one – nearly two hours. It ends with some comments from Doug Stanley.
Watch the budget process on this exclusive Royal Examiner video.
The Front Royal-Warren County Airport (FRR) is nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley on 90 acres where the Shenandoah River curves gracefully by the Blue Ridge and Massanutten Mountains. The Airport is located three miles southwest of Front Royal and fifteen miles south of Winchester. The facility is the home to Cass Aviation, the Randolph-Macon Academy Flight Training Program, the Skyline Soaring Glider Club, and Front Royal Aero Services.
The Airport’s location is just outside the Washington ADIZ which makes it attractive for low-stress flying. FRR has a 3,000-foot by 75-foot runway and offers 100LL aviation fuel. The airport has undergone an extensive improvement plan that includes a new terminal and ramp, resurfaced runway, a ten bay T-hanger, and a 16 bay jet pod unit in 2003. In addition, the Airport is part of the regional general aviation system serving the entire Eastern and Middle Atlantic United States and offers less than a one hour flying time to Baltimore, Maryland; Charlotte, North Carolina; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and New York, New York.