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Town planners move short-term rental draft ordinance toward public hearing



At 6 p.m., Wednesday, December 1, the Front Royal Planning Commission met at work session in the Town Hall second floor meeting room to discuss formulating a text amendment to zoning codes to facilitate legally prescribed short-term tourist rentals. To this point, as a sub-municipality of the county such applications within a vacuum of town codes, have been directed by county codes. The town council recently requested the planning commission to explore creation of a town ordinance to oversee the application for short-term tourist rentals within the town limits.

Planning Director Lauren Kopishke presented a 10-page report, including a draft “Addition to (Code) 175-3” with a 14-point check list of requirements for submission of a Special Use Permit (SUP) application and draft “Short Term Rental Property Management Plan” that would be required of all applicants. Also included in the agenda packet distributed to the commission were Warren County’s checklist for such permitting applications and relevant state codes, including taxing processes. It might be noted that the Code of Virginia Chapter 35, Article 3.1 on Merchants Capital and Short-Term Rental Properties regarding taxation repeatedly refers to short-term rentals as a “business” endeavor, not a residential operation.

Planning Director Lauren Kopishke, at top left of table, briefs Town Planning Commission on dynamics of her draft short-term rental ordinance requested for development by town council. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

After four sentences defining the topic, the Code 175-3 draft checklist’s opening line – “Short-term tourist rentals shall be permitted in all Zoning Districts by Special Use Permit and shall meet the following requirements:” drew a lengthy discussion begun by Commissioner Darryl Merchant.

That discussion centered on the question of whether within the confines of the town limits, short-term tourist rentals should be allowed in residential districts, particularly R-1 Districts. Merchant was skeptical of a business operation being allowed in the often closer proximity of R-1 residential areas.

Another sticking point was raised by Commission Chairman Douglas Jones. That was whether a proposed Town Code should override Home Owner Association (HOA) rules regarding the conduct of short-term tourist rentals. A consensus was fairly quickly raised to eliminate any wording suggestion that the town government was in the business of overruling written HOA standards for short-term tourist rental operations.

The R-1 Residential District discussion centering on the advisability of introducing a “commercial element” into town residential neighborhoods took more time to resolve. Merchant noted the planning director’s reference to investors in some areas moving to buy multiple properties specifically for use in short-term rental businesses. Merchant worried that such commercial investing strategies would threaten to alter the character of neighborhoods from residentially based to commercial, as well as shrink the housing market for families seeking to put roots down in the community.

Darryl Merchant, center, flanked from left by Josh Ingram, Planning Director Kopishke, and Vice-Chair Connie Marshner across table, explains his reservations about potential over-commercialization of residential neighborhoods in town.

“I’m not saying short-term tourist rentals will tear the fabric of the town apart, but it’s a start,” Merchant said of his concern about business enterprises, rather than individual homeowners seeking additional revenue, controlling the coming of short-term tourist rentals to the town. However, a majority consensus was reached that with care the town governments overseeing and defining of short-term tourist rental processes could offer the necessary control to avoid the kind of commercialization Merchant feared.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” Commission Vice-Chair Connie Marshner said of allowing short-term tourist rentals in residential, including R-1, neighborhoods. The counter concern to Merchant’s was that to forbid them in residential areas would likely shrink the town’s short-term tourist rental marketplace too significantly to allow it to exist in any meaningful way. Marshner said that perhaps the commercial investor aspect could be utilized to direct a reclaiming of blighted properties in town – “It might be a plus,” she offered of that potential outcome.

The planners agreed to move a slightly re-worked draft of the short-term rental ordinance proposal toward public hearing. Assistant Town Attorney George Sonnett, far left, was present to answer questions on involved legal variables.

“I think it’s something we should try,” Josh Ingram observed of allowing them in all zoning districts.

“We’d be foolish not to,” Marshner added.

“Let’s take it to public hearing and see what the people think,” Merchant said, leading Ingram to concur.

Following the commission consensus, Planning Director Kopishke said she would make the few suggested changes to her draft and then move the matter toward a planning commission public hearing.

In the commission’s only other business Wednesday evening during the planning director’s update, Kopishke told the commission that 200 responses to the Comprehensive Plan Citizen Survey had been received. Noting a target of 3,000 responses by the end of the year, ways to increase the pace of public input were pondered. Of the replies received, Kopishke said a recurring theme was retaining Front Royal’s “small town charm”. – “It seems very anti-growth,” the planning director noted of the replies thus far received.

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Town of Front Royal prepares for its 2nd, oh wait – 3rd winter storm of season



On January 14, 2022, the operations team that includes Public Works, Energy, Fleet Management, Finance, and the Police Department met to discuss the upcoming snowstorm forecast to drop from 6 inches to a foot or more of snow here. Public Works crews are treating primary roads now in preparation for the winter storm now predicted to begin around 1 p.m. on Sunday. Road crews and Fleet will begin working 12-hour shifts over the weekend to continue treating streets and plowing snow as needed.

The Police Department is asking citizens to stay off the roads during the storm if possible. Road crews are better able to cover streets with less traffic. The Town is asking residents to use off-street parking this weekend if available.

Town Energy Services crews are prepared and will be working this weekend to cover possible power outages. Power outages after work hours should be reported to Front Royal Police at (540) 635-2111. If you have internet connectivity during working hours, please report outages at

As always in an emergency call 911.

Public Works and Energy Services also have contractors on standby if additional crews are needed.

Front Royal will post updated information on the Town website (, Facebook (, and Instagram ( as necessary.

The Virginia Department of Transportation Staunton District is preparing for forecasted snow and some sleet to occur during the daytime on Sunday, January 16, and into overnight hours, ending by early Monday, January 17. VDOT crews began brine operations at 8 a.m. on Friday, January 14 and will conclude this work later in the day.

In the Staunton District, around 900 – 920 pieces of equipment will be deployed for snow removal operations. VDOT crews will be out to plow and treat roads as the winter weather begins. Wreckers will be pre-staged to assist with vehicle removal at traffic crash locations along interstate roads. Tree crews are ready to assist as needed during and after the storm.

Travel during the storm should be avoided and local forecasts should be monitored. Winter weather with wind and snow rates can change quickly, causing dangerous driving conditions and possible white-out situations.

Travelers should be prepared for emergencies. Travel emergency kits can include flashlights and batteries, ice scraper, cell phone and charger, jumper cables, blankets or quilts, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable food, abrasive material for traction, and a shovel.

(The Front Royal Public Information Office updated its release on the above preparations to acknowledge this will be the third, rather than second snow of the season to hit the town.)

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After lengthy closed session, council ponders its role in regulating short-term-tourist rentals



The Monday evening (Jan. 10) Front Royal Town Council Work Session began with a two-hour-plus Closed Meeting at which first, “probable litigation” involving a claim of damaged private property by unidentified Town operations was discussed; followed by discussion of personnel matters including “… performance, demotion, salaries, disciplining, or resignation of specific public officers, appointees, or employees … specifically of the Town Planning Commission, Town Board of Zoning Appeals, and the Local Board of Building Code Appeals”, as well as a late added “and other personnel”.

The first two hours of Monday’s work session was conducted behind closed doors regarding a property damage claim against the Town, and personnel matters. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

As there was no meeting scheduled, no announcement or action followed the closed session.

The open portion of the work secession featured a wide-ranging conversation about establishment of a Town Code on regulating Short-Term Tourist Rentals. Town Planning Director Lauren Kopishke opened by telling council that no one had showed up at a December Planning Commission Public Hearing on the matter, so there was no public input on parameters or preferences to fit town residential patterns interacting with the increasingly popular “quasi-commercial” use of personal residence as a money-making short-term rental endeavor.

After an overview from Kopishke of the draft proposal based on the existing County Code, opinions of elected officials on levels of regulation went in wide and varied directions. Letasha Thompson opened by expressing concern over a requirement that all short-term rental parking be in driveways, and not allowed on streets. – “Some people don’t have driveways” she worried over that segment being prohibited from qualifying for Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) to allow them to profit off renting their properties out.

Kopishke responded that such conditions were included to protect normal neighborhood parking patterns and would ultimately depend on the number of cars short-term rental customers would bring to bear on a location.

Amber Morris wondered if the Town should initiate any regulations on the use, noting that there were statewide codes. “Where in the Town Code are short-term rentals specifically prohibited? Because I have been approached recently that it is not specifically against code. And in the state of Virginia it’s pretty blanketed. And my concern with this is … that we’re kind of going above and beyond and we’re adding unnecessary measures to the entire thing as a whole,” she told the planning director, later wondering why after “10-plus years” of non-enforcement, why start regulating now?

“While it’s not defined in our zoning ordinance – all we have defined are lodging homes. And these do not permit short-term stays under 14 days. So, to allow this we have to at least define it in our ordinance,” Kopishke responded, adding, “The state does permit it, which is why it makes sense for us to adopt something, because the state just defines what it is and explains how they’re going to tax it. It doesn’t explain how to regulate it.”

Planning Director Lauren Kopishke, standing to left, explains dynamics of Town’s role in regulating a developing rental trend, short-term out of private homes, as council ponders its role in regulating a quasi-business operation inside its limits.

Morris countered that the draft seemed “a little over-regulated” in its existing form. Planning Director Kopishke noted that with such a broad state code it made sense for each jurisdiction to establish its own regulatory code to accommodate its community structure, so as not to allow a new quasi-business use to disrupt the lifestyle of existing neighborhoods.

“Every jurisdiction has something a little bit different. So, what I took just for simplicity’s sake was Warren County’s because that’s what people around here would be used to. I looked at Strasburg, Strasburg’s just a little bit more complicated – Winchester, Fauquier County, they have more regulation to it. So, this is bare bones,” Kopishke said of the draft structure presented to council for an early review.

“This leaves a lot up to our discretion, right?” Vice-Mayor Lori Cockrell observed.

“The way it’s written gives you as council a lot of control. If you want less, we can put less prohibitions in there. It’s how council would like it to be done,” the planning director explained. This led Councilman Joseph McFadden to note that many people who might be attracted to the idea of making money off short-term rentals of their home or other structures might not think through a business plan – “This just gives them something to think about. I think it’s great there are some (guidelines) in here. Like you said, we decomplicated it, uncomplicated it as much as possible, keep it bare bones, I’m all for it,” McFadden said.

However, Morris continued to voice concern over any attempt at regulation, noting that in the absence of a code, a number of town citizens have been operating this type of rental use for a number of years. – “But we haven’t gone after them,” Kopishke noted. She observed that were its council desire, the Town could initiate legal actions to stop those operations until a code is established and permitting obtained. – “It could be considered a Class 3 misdemeanor,” the planning director pointed out, adding that it did not seem a desirable approach to label people “criminals” for pursuing a use in a vacuum of town guidance or regulation.

“That’s not the concern, but the concern is we’ve been doing this for 10-plus years and it hasn’t been enforced, why are we adding new (regulations)?” Morris continued in questioning why bother to regulate now. McFadden responded that some people who would like to initiate such an operation were not because they wanted “to operate within the law”. Establishing legal parameters to protect short-term tourist operations, as well as their neighbors’ interests in a more “bare-boned” manner as described, seemed an optimum path forward, he reasoned.

“I think we should do less regulation,” Morris injected, without explaining what was “less” than the no regulations or enforcement the Town has been operating under.

Among regulations on the table were the necessity of short-term tourist rentals having landline phones to assure the ability to contact emergency services if necessary, limitations on number of rental occupants (two per bedroom), vehicles and parking, and a one-time application fee of $400.

“I look at this as protecting our citizens, the people who live here every day … that their quality of life in their neighborhood, their children, whatever, that it doesn’t affect them because somebody next to them wants to do this,” Vice-Mayor Cockrell observed as the conversation wound down. The entire discussion lasted for nearly 20 minutes (33:50 to 52:00 minute mark of the Town video). As to a path forward, Kopishke told Royal Examiner she would remove the driveway parking restriction and forward the newest draft ordinance to the planning commission for further review and a recommendation on final action to council.

See this discussion, as well as others, including parameters for Vape/Vape Oriented Businesses (following the short-term tourist rental discussion); the Order of Business” at regular council meetings – one proposed switch was having Public Comments on non-agenda items after Public Hearings; two committee appointments; options forward in the employee health care insurance pool; pending Capital Improvement Projects; and a Sole Source Purchase of Neptune Water Meters at a projected cost of $65,523.

Not on the agenda

One other unscheduled item that occurred just before the work session’s convening around 6 p.m. was serving of a no-trespass order on Mayor Holloway by a representative of his Virginia Ave. neighbor Cheryl Langlais. As noted toward the conclusion of Norma Jean Shaw’s story on Holloway’s dog-containment fence construction and permitting issues, Holloway had refused to accept a registered letter serving him with the notice in the wake of his and other social media posts concerning his discontent with his neighbor’s report on his dogs running loose and her in-home business licensing issues.

Mayor Holloway does not appear pleased shortly after receiving a no-trespass order just before Monday’s work session’s convening. Below, a copy of the trespass order initially attempted to be delivered by registered letter, which the mayor is reported by its sender to have declined to accept.

Mayor built fence prior to obtaining zoning permit – is a pattern emerging?

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Warren County Supervisors consider rural events facilities in the South River District with mixed results



The Warren County Board of Supervisors met Wednesday, January 11, to consider four Conditional Use Permits (CUPs) in the South River District. The four applications on the agenda are all related to the proposed uses of agricultural land. Increasing attention to land use in the past 10 years and pressure for more residential housing have meant greater focus on the balance between property rights and community impact. The terms “By Right” and “Permitted Use” mean property owners can do some things with their property with no approvals required, and other uses are subject to “conditional use” permits issued by the “governing body”, in this case, the county supervisors.

Filled chairs at the Wednesday Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting in anticipation of a Browntown property owner’s request for a permit for Campgrounds and rural events facilities. Photos by Stephen Sill.

Carl and Jennifer Ey applied for a CUP for a rural events facility on their Agriculturally Zoned acreage at 1406 Panhandle Road in Bentonville. The County Planning Commission had previously recommended approval of the permit, and the Eys are experienced, small rural venue operators. Deputy Planning Director Matt Wendling briefed the Supervisors that the County Building Official, Health Department, and Virginia Department of Transportation had provided comments on the proposal. The Department of Conservation and Recreation – Andy Guest State Park had also requested in writing that the facility observe the same quiet hours as the park facility, so the conditions of the permit were modified to require that events hosted at the site should end at 10 p.m.

Supervisor Vicky Cook asked the applicant if he anticipated having to accommodate large vehicles such as buses for the events, given the narrow road leading to the site. The applicant responded that he would be happy to accommodate a prohibition on buses if that was the intent of the board, and that should the expected number of vehicles at an event be sufficient to warrant, his plan was to have someone to direct traffic to avoid any conflicts.

The public hearing on this request yielded three speakers, two of which were supportive of the permit, and one against; in addition a neighboring landowner had registered his opposition to the site of the facility on the applicant’s property. The applicant had addressed the concerns with the neighbor in writing and with the planning department. Bill Barnett, a local property developer and coincidentally a nearby resident of the property, expressed his strong support for the project. He said as the pressure on landowners increases to more effectively use their acreage, “The easy way out,” is to cut down all the trees, bulldoze it level, and build houses. He commended the applicant for devising a way to preserve the rural character of the area and still share it with the public.
Supervisors asked questions about road access to the facility and whether a nearby archaeological site could be impacted by the planned use. The Planning Department staff indicated this facility was a substantial distance from the Flint Run Archaeological site. VDOT had weighed in with its requirements which also had been addressed by the applicants. The Board then voted unanimously to approve the permit.

Wright proposals
The supervisors then turned their attention to a request by Edwin Wright for a CUP for a Commercial Campground on his agriculturally zoned property at 2905 Gooney Manor Loop, again in the South River Magisterial District. Board Chairman Cheryl Cullers cautioned the waiting crowd that disruptions or outbursts were prohibited under the rules of public meetings. In contrast to the previous public hearing, nearly 100 citizens were in attendance to register their opinions about the Gooney Manor proposal.

Deputy Planning Director Wendling informed the Supervisors that the applicant had modified his request to scale the size back from 100 primitive campsites to 50 in deference to the community concerns about traffic to the site. That modification appeared to take the supervisors by surprise, as the application package still indicated the project would provide 100 spaces. Several supervisors asked questions about the reduction in scope – was it a permanent reduction, or would there be a later expansion. The applicant indicated that, depending on the results of the project, the size could be expanded.

Supervisor Walt Mabe expressed concern about the availability of water and power, and Mr. Wright explained that water would be available throughout the site, but power would not be provided to each site, Since there was uncertainty about the types and sizes of camping modes (Tents, Small trailers, etc.) and little detail in the application about the facilities that would be provided, the Supervisors were dubious about the proposal even before the public hearing.

Applicant Edwin Wright answers questions about his campground conditional use permit on his property in Browntown. Supervisors eventually decided against approving his permit requests.

There were 43 speakers present, and according to one of the speakers, Stacey Mikel, over 700 local residents had signed an online petition opposing the permit. The complaints followed a familiar theme:

• The roads were inadequate to support the additional traffic

• Campers would likely create fire hazards in a heavily wooded area adjacent to a national park

• Cell service in the area is inadequate so emergency 911 calls might not work

• Access by fire/EMS could be restricted by road blockage

• Fire/EMS staff is already inadequate

• Alcohol-related incidents are likely

• “Visitors don’t care about the community”

• Trash dumping

• Some don’t trust the applicant

• Lack of applicant’s experience managing a campground.

• Concerns about trespassing, firearms, or personal safety of neighboring residents

Local developer and resident William Barnett gives a passionate defense of Edwin Wright’s request for a conditional use permit. Barnett pointed out the need for facilities of this type to provide visitors access to the many assets that Warren County offers.

After almost two hours of always civil, if opposing public comment, William Barnett addressed the Supervisors again: “If you disapprove this, you should never, ever approve another campground unless it fronts on State Routes 340 or 522,” Barnett asserted. Supervisor Cook then introduced a motion to deny the permit, seconded by Supervisor Mabe. The vote was unanimous and there was a sigh of relief in the room.

The Supervisors then took up the next CUP request by Edwin Wright for a Rural Events Facility at the same address. Many of the same residents rose to oppose the permit and echo the same complaints. It was clear that opposition to the rural events facility was at least as strong as that for the campground. Supervisors asked about the size of events that the applicant expected to host, such as concerts or gatherings. The answer was that the expectation was that groups and concerts would not exceed 200 people.

Mr. Barnett again rose to support the request and compared this Rural Events Facility development to the one that had earlier been unanimously approved. “People who attend these events expect them to be in rural areas with small roads.” The last to make a public comment was Phillip Vaught, a local innkeeper, and investor, in support of the proposal. He told the supervisors that the great danger for a property of this type is that landowners with agricultural property have the right to divide their property and it was easy to envision 100 houses or even more on that property, without a hearing of any kind.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, Chairman Cullers in whose district the Wright proposals lie, then spoke. “I have gone out there and measured this road, and I am familiar with it.”

Her concern about the permit was safety. “Safety is the issue,” she said. A motion to deny the permit request was made by Supervisor Mabe and seconded by Supervisor Butler. The vote was again unanimous to deny.

Warren County Board of Supervisors Chair Cheryl Cullers listens to the arguments for and against a permit for a Rural Events Facility on Browntown’s Gooney Manor Loop. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Supervisors decided to deny the permit.

There was a brief discussion about the remaining two Conditional Use Permit requests by Mr. Wright for a Campground and a Rural Events Facility on an adjoining property. Mr. Wright announced to the Board that he was withdrawing those requests to research and reevaluate his plans. He expected it to be several months before he was ready for the next steps.

In light of the withdrawal, Chairman Cullers adjourned the meeting at 10:30 p.m.


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Town announces ‘plans’ to appoint out-of-area Interim Town Attorney



In a press release, late Tuesday afternoon the Town of Front Royal’s Richmond-based Public Information contractor Joanne Williams of Williams Media issued a press release announcing the Town’s “plans” to appoint an interim town attorney. No timing on the actual appointment was included in the release naming James E. Cornwell, Jr. of White Stone, Virginia, as that planned appointee.

White Stone is a small, coastal town at the mouth of the Rappahannock River near its entry point into the Chesapeake Bay in Lancaster County. An online search indicated White Stone’s population at 352 in the 2010 census and 327 in the 2020 census.

However, Stone’s legal experience is somewhat broader than his hometown’s population, cited at “over 45 years of active practice representing local Virginia governments, public bodies, and authorities”. If our count was right, there were 24 counties, public bodies, and authorities that Stone has represented over his legal career. And if we were to guess based on his experience in the legal field, we’d say his age, while not stated, is not far from the 70 of the recently “retired” man he is replacing on an interim basis.

That lengthy legal experience will provide the background for duties cited as “providing daily advice on internal, administrative and management matters, specific personnel matters, preparing ordinances, contracts and other documents for adoption or approval, interpreting state and federal laws and regulations, and advising the Town on practices and procedures.”

If recent events and closed session agendas are an indicator, interpreting regulations regarding state codes as they might conflict with a local charter or code as to personnel matters, for instance regarding planning commissions among others, may be put to the test early in his tenure, whenever it begins.

See the Town release in its entirety below:

Front Royal Plans to Appoint Interim Town Attorney

Front Royal Town Counsel plans to appoint James E. Cornwell, Jr. from White Stone, Virginia as the interim Town attorney. Mr. Cornwell has over 45 years of active practice representing local Virginia governments, public bodies, and authorities.

Cornwell’s vast experience in local government includes providing legal services for: Town of Narrows; Town of Glen Lyn; Giles County School Board; Giles County Department of Social Services; Dinwiddie County; Bland County; New Kent County; Craig County, Brunswick County; Lancaster County; Grayson County; City of Galax; Carroll County; Floyd County; Town of Clarksville; Page County; New River Valley Regional Jail; Pepper’s Ferry Regional Wastewater Treatment Authority; Carroll Grayson Galax Regional Solid Waste Authority; Eastern Shore of Virginia Broadband Authority; Roanoke-Alleghany Regional Commission; New River Valley Regional Commission; Virginia First Regional Industrial Facility Authority, and Carroll Grayson Galax Regional Industrial Facility Authority.

“Mr. Cornwell’s extensive legal knowledge and experience in local government is needed in Front Royal as the Town develops new strategic and comprehensive plans, updates zoning and code compliance ordinances and launches the Economic Development Authority,” said Mayor Chris Holloway. “He understands and is an expert on navigating local government processes and regulations within mandate policies from Virginia and the federal government.”

During his years in practice, Mr. Cornwell has provided counsel to many authorities and entities including EDA, IDA, Water and Sewer, and the collection of delinquent real estate taxes.
Cornwell’s services to Front Royal will include providing daily advice on internal, administrative and management matters, specific personnel matters, preparing ordinances, contracts and other documents for adoption or approval, interpreting state and federal laws and regulations, and advising the Town on practices and procedures.

Mr. Cornwell has served as Substitute General District and Juvenile Court Judge, 29th Virginia Judicial Circuit for ten (10) years. He earned a B.A. degree from Campbell College and a J.D. degree from the College of William & Mary.

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Public School operations, budget and staffing needs reviewed by supervisors; Election Redistricting advertised for public hearing – and more



After getting first, a Warren County Public Schools departmental update on operational and personnel matters, including still-felt consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a later explanation and extended discussion of the need for a requested $63,650 Contingency Reserve transfer into the public schools’ operational budget, the newly post-2021 election-realigned Warren County Board of Supervisors – Jay Butler and Vicky Cook in for retired Tony Carter and Archie Fox – unanimously approved that transfer.

As the board took to public seating to nominate and elect officers for the new year, they noticed ‘private citizen’ Tederick’s arrival. Cheryl Cullers, as chairman and Delores Oates as Vice-Chair were nominated without opposition and re-elected and elected, respectively, by unanimous consensus. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

However, that approval didn’t come before assurances from Schools Superintendent Chris Ballenger that the Contingency money would go to a specified personnel use tied to the approval, as opposed to a rather vaguely worded “unexpected expense” variable. Contingency transfers in past years where money had been moved to other “unexpected expense” variables within the public school system from the one the county board had believed the money would go to, seemed to have some of the supervisors nervous about too vague a potential use.

Ballenger verified the staff summary citing that “unexpected expense” variable as the need for an additional ESL (English Second Language) teacher. Ballenger said the school system currently has six ESL teachers with 171 students classified as “Level One” ESL students needing as much as one hour per day of direct ESL teacher assistance. And while the estimated mid-to-upper 20s-to-1 student-teacher ratio may not sound too bad, Ballenger noted that “close to another 200 students” who had left the Level One category (of a four-tiered system) were still being monitored by ESL staff in assistance to English language teachers for any classroom performance issues that might require those students to be re-enrolled to the direct ESL teaching staff, Level One program.

Asked if the position had been advertised, Ballenger said it had been, but only as a “prospective” position since the money for it was not currently in the budget. The Contingency Reserve transfer would allow “Prospective” to be removed from the advertised position so that hiring could proceed. Responding to another question, Ballenger said that while not all ESL students were Spanish speaking, that was “a majority”.

WC Public Schools Superintendent Chris Ballenger first, explained operational issues into the third year of pandemic and virtual learning variables; then explained the plan for the $63,650 of a Contingency Reserve transfer to hire an additional ESL teacher.

With an understanding that any change of use would need to be brought back to the supervisors for review, on a motion by Delores Oates, seconded by Walt Mabe, the contingency transfer was approved by a 5-0 vote.

Election Redistricting

After approval of both a four-item Consent Agenda, and three items – Establishment of a Finance/Audit Committee, a Technology Review Committee, and County/Public Schools Liaison Committee – removed for brief discussion by County Administrator Ed Daley, the board got an update and recommendation on Election Redistricting options from Planning Director Joe Petty. County Registrar Carol Tobin was also present to respond to any questions. Interim County Attorney Jason Ham also offered some background on variables coming down from the state level that had only recently been finalized. Ham commended county staff’s work on pinning down a preferred redistricting option mandated by population changes over the past decade.

With assistance and support from County Registrar Carol Tobin, right, and Interim County Attorney Jason Ham, to right at staff table, Planning Director Joe Petty briefed the board on 2 options for mandated Election District redistricting due to county population changes in the 2020 census.

Petty explained that of the two options presented, the first one appeared preferable as the least obtrusive. In response to a question from board Chair Cullers, who observed that her South River District wouldn’t be impacted by either option, Petty said that the only districts to see a change due to population variables would be the Happy Creek and Shenandoah Districts.

Guidelines mandate that periodically in the wake of census numbers each municipality election district must maintain a plus-or-minus 5% population ratio to each other. The 2020 Census showed Warren County’s population increasing from 37,439 to 40,572, an increase of 3,133 people or +8.37%. In Warren County in the wake of the 2020 Census, that median district population number was 8,114, with a plus-minus range from 7,708 to 8,502.

As described in the planning staff agenda packet, the recommended Option 1 “moves the boundary line to follow Morgan Ford Road and Howellsville Road to connect to the existing Shenandoah/Happy Creek boundary. Approximately 565 persons will be added to the Happy Creek Election District from the current Shenandoah Election District. the subdivisions being added include Apple Mountain Lake West, Aspen Hills (Greenfield, Skyview Section Two), Rockwood, Wildcat Knob, Manassas Run Manor, a portion of Shannon Subdivision, Shannon Woods, Morgans Ridge, Riverton Corporation Property, Land of the Blue Ridge, Ball, and Heater.

Following Petty’s summary, Ham’s observations, and Tobin’s comment that she was there to implement whatever direction the supervisors choose to go in, on a motion by Mabe (Shenandoah), seconded by Oates (North River), the board unanimously authorized advertisement for a public hearing on the proposed redistricting plan Option 1.

The Election Redistricting presentation begins at the 1:24:30 mark of the full County meeting video; the public school system overview starts at the 15:15 video mark, and the superintendent’s explanation of the Contingency Reserve request and subsequent discussion begins at the 1:00:25 video mark. A VDOT road work update in the wake of the first statewide winter weather event begins at the 11:05 mark of the meeting video.

See these discussions and all other business conducted in a full agenda of the opening county board meeting of the year 2022, before adjournment to a work session packed with departmental issues in the County videos.

Work Session Agenda

That work session – see this separate work session video – featured:

1/ Board Deputy Clerk Emily Ciarrocchi’s PowerPoint presentation on the advantages of moving to countywide Electronic Packets for meetings, with hard copy options (:35 mark).

2/ Planning Director Petty’s summary of the status of the Rockland Road Railroad Crossing Flyover Bridge – with a late 2023 construction target date once a resolution of county land acquisition and project costs and compensations are resolved (50:00 mark).

Planning Director Petty points to path of planned RR flyover which will cross the tracks slightly north of the existing road, intersecting with Rockland Rd. at points east and west of the tracks. Projected construction is cited by VDOT for late 2023, with a $27 million price tag. With the project involving local traffic access often blocked by rail access to the Virginia Inland Port, the County is hoping for federal and/or state assistance with its share of the costs, whatever that is eventually determined to be.

3/ An IT Department update from IT Director Todd Jones (1:05:14).

4/ A Human Resources Department summary of in-house COVID-19 vaccination, testing, and social distancing standards in conjunction with shifting federal and state guidelines (1:28:10).

5/ Sheriff Mark Butler’s summary of options to establish what he called a “needed” multi-purpose training area and impounded vehicle facility space inside the county. The Sheriff cited a project with no up-front costs to the county and its taxpayers, as well as an estimated annual $15,000 in travel-to-train savings promised. A preferred location was identified as a 15.44-acre parcel near the County’s Bentonville Transfer/Trash Hauling station off Shangri La Road (1:44:10).

Also discussed were board member committee appointments (2:11:55) and goals (2:15:20) for the coming year.

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Local Government

This time County Board Chair Cullers cuts Tederick short in attack on member



During the “Public Comments” portion of the Tuesday (January 4) Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting “private citizen” and recent 2-1/2-year Town of Front Royal appointed interim mayor, interim town manager, and “transition team/manager of business development” Matt Tederick rose to continue his allegations against Shenandoah District Supervisor Walt Mabe begun in the midst of his three-day “cabal theory” tour of December 13 to 15. However, this time things went a little different than Tederick’s initial uninterrupted, lengthy and thus-far unsubstantiated accusations involving Shenandoah District Supervisor Walt Mabe in an early leak of the Town Planning Commission-initiated report on the initial approval process of Mayor Holloway’s construction company’s non-conforming Steele Street subdivision permitting process.

Just in case you miss it coming in the WCGC meeting room door, the Public Comments rules of conduct are also now placed on the speakers’ podium. As noted in the sixth and final bullet point, failing to leave the podium or meeting when asked by the chairman could lead to county and state code criminal charges resulting into up to a $2500 fine and a maximum 12-month jail sentence. Royal Examiner Photos by Roger Bianchini

After being cautioned that he would be limited to the three-minute speaker time limit, Tederick began: “Several weeks ago I came and quoted a newspaper article” at which time the just re-appointed Chairman Cheryl Cullers interrupted to tell Tederick, “If this is going to be another personal attack, I won’t allow it” to which Tederick replied, “I respect that, Ms. Cullers,” adding, “I’m afforded public comment, correct?”

“If it turns to personal attacks I will ask you to be seated,” Cullers responded, leading Tederick to counter, “You listen to my comments and then determine if they’re personal attacks.” For the second time, Tederick requested and was granted a re-starting of the three-minute clock manned by Board Deputy Clerk Emily Ciarrocchi, at which point he restarted his remarks.

County Board Chair Cullers and ‘private citizen’ Tederick during exchange on Public Comments Code of Conduct at outset of his remarks of Jan. 4. Tederick asked to be heard before a chairman’s decision on the nature of his remarks.

“Three weeks ago I came and quoted a newspaper article in the Warren Report (Tederick did not mention the author’s name, Tom Sayre, the incumbent whom Mabe defeated for the Shenandoah District board seat a bit over two years ago). I asked you to look into the clandestine operations of Supervisor Mabe. Based on the agenda today I don’t see any action items. Perhaps during the board reports, someone will have the courage to do the right thing and call for an investigation” at which point Cullers again interrupted.

“Sir, I’m going to stop you. This is turning into a personal attack. If you feel” at which point Tederick interrupted to ask, “Is that where you’re going with this? Let me know today if you’re going to stop me.”

After listening to Tederick’s restating an accusation of what he now terms a ‘clandestine operation’ involving Shenandoah District Supervisor Mabe, Chairman Cullers calls a halt, asking Tederick to return to his seat.

“Yes, sir,” the board chair replied, leading Tederick to leave the podium, but not before adding, “You’ll be hearing from someone.” Whoever it is the board will be hearing from, unlike the December 15 Town Planning Commission meeting following his departure after being challenged on accusations thereby presiding Commission Vice-Chair Connie Marshner, it was not prior to this meeting’s end some five hours later.

Tederick then returned to his seat under the watchful eye of a Warren County Sheriff’s Office deputy on security detail. Tederick remained at the meeting for several minutes into a VDOT report and perhaps a portion of the County Public Schools operational update before exiting as the board waded into a lengthy meeting agenda, closed session, and work session that sent the 10 a.m. meeting beyond 3 p.m.

Tederick responds to Cullers call for unsigned-up Public Comments speakers, beginning at the 8:40 to 8:55 mark of the linked County video.

Re-seated, Tederick expressed some frustration at not being able to continue his thus-far unsubstantiated accusations against a sitting supervisor before deciding to leave the meeting.

Watch the Board of Supervisors meeting of January 4, 2022, click here.

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