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Warren County Comprehensive Plan review underway



Warren County Planning Commission work session to review Comprehensive Plan. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Following the July 10th Warren County Planning Commission meeting, the Commission went into a work session to start the Comprehensive Plan review process. The first chapter of the Plan to be reviewed is Chapter 3 – Natural Resources.

You can view the Comprehensive Plan on the Warren County site: Chapter 3: Natural Resources

This process is scheduled to run until December 2020.

The schedule will be:

July-August 2019 – Chapter 3 (Natural Resources)
September-October 2019 – Chapter 2 (Demographics)
October-November-2019 – Chapter 4 (Growth Management and Land Use)
December 2019-January 2020 – Chapter 5 (Community Facilities)
February-March 2020 – Chapter 6 (Economic Development)
April-May 2020 – Chapter 7 – (Infrastructure)
June 2020 – (Implementation)
July 2020 – Prepare final revisions
August-September 2020 – Planning Commission – Public Hearing
October 2020 – Present Comprehensive Plan to Board of Supervisors
November-December 2020 – Board of Supervisors – Public Hearing

From the County’s website:

The Comprehensive Plan is the County’s official policy guide for future development related decisions. The Plan is long-range in nature, and provides a picture of how the community wishes to develop over the next 15 to 20 years.

As a policy document, the Plan provides a framework for the County’s residents and decision makers to conceptualize how the County should look and function. Within each chapter of the Plan, there are implementation strategies identified. All or some portion of the strategies may be implemented to accomplish the goals and objectives for any particular topic addressed in the Plan. The major purposes of the Comprehensive Plan are:

  • Provide a guide for the numerous public and private decisions that will create the future County.
  • Promote the interests of the community as a whole.
  • Enhance, describe, and promote the County’s physical environment.
  • Develop a coordinated, well-planned system of public services.
  • Evaluate short-term actions against long-term goals.
  • Recognize the natural resources, historical, and architectural significance of Warren County and the surrounding area so that they can be more effectively preserved, protected, and integrated into an orderly pattern of development.
  • Fulfill the legal requirement of Chapter 11, Title 15.1 of the Code of Virginia.
  • The overall goal of the comprehensive plan is to: Maintain and enhance the quality and character of Warren County’s natural and man-made environment by promoting the efficient use and conservation of the County’s land and natural resources in order to effectively meet the social and economic needs of present and future citizens.
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Local Government

Warren County Planning Commission considers short-term rentals



The Warren County Planning Commission Meeting of December 11th included a public hearing on a request by property owner Stephen Aaron for a conditional use permit for a short term rental on a property he owns in the River Ridge on the Shenandoah subdivision. Three other residents of the subdivision offered comments on the proposal, which the property owner described as an economic necessity due to the unforeseen cost of renovating the property which he purchased last May.

County planner Matt Wendling outlined some challenges the property owner had faced with the property since its purchase, when he found rotted floors under a bathroom and kitchen requiring complete renovation. In addition to those hidden condition problems, the property had never had a completed building final inspection or a certificate of occupancy. Mr. Wendling then outlined the conditions that would be required of the property owner in order for staff to recommend approval of the Conditional use permit.

County planner Matt Wendling outlined some challenges the property owner had faced with the property since its purchase. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Since the property lies within a subdivision with an Owners association, the property owner had submitted a document outlining his proposal to the owners association and received in return a list of issues from the association which he in turn had incorporated into his draft submission to the county.

During the public comment portion of the hearing, Vivian and Jack Paulikonis who are 23-year residents in the subdivision expressed their opinion that, while they were pleased to have a “nice family” as owners of the property, they were concerned about its use as a tourist rental with unknown people coming in and out of the gated community. Mr. Paulikonis indicated that the public hearing had been rushed through and that most owners in the subdivision were unaware of the activities of the planning department. They seemed to have less issue with the property owner or his plan for the actual use of the property than with the county’s approval process. Mr. Paulikonis described it as a “sneak attack”. The Planning staff reiterated that the public notice requirements had been met.

Vivian Paulikonis expresses her concerns about the property use as a tourist rental with unknown people coming in and out of the gated community.

Mr. Pettengill, President of the property owners association and the nearest neighbor to the property in question weighed in by confirming that the property owner had sent the association a copy of his proposed property management plan after the association’s annual meeting in October, but that he had drafted conditions and cleared it with the association board of directors in response to the plan.

The property owner then provided background information indicating his willingness to incorporate all the input from the owners association and the county planning staff into his proposal and to continue to work with the county departments in completing the certificate of occupancy, required in any case prior to Board of Supervisors Approval.

After a few questions from commissioners and responses from Mr. Aaron or County staff, the commission voted unanimously to forward the request for a conditional use permit to the Board of supervisors, subject to the conditions outlined by the planning staff.

After the public hearing portion was closed, the planning staff outlined three additional requests that are preparing for public hearings at the January Commission Meeting.

Brian and Ann Conley, for a conditional Use Permit for short term tourist rental for their Agricultural zoned property at 64 rocky Lane in the South River Magisterial District.

Damon and Robin Feldman, for a conditional use permit for a short term tourist rental at their agricultural zoned property at 53 Crystal River Drive, also in the South River Magisterial District
Randall Parz, for a conditional use permit for an artisan and craftsman trades facility not to exceed 5,000 SF on his agricultural zoned property at 577 Esteppe Rd in the Fork Magisterial District.

Planning staff explained each of these proposals and the commission voted to authorize public hearings at the January 8, 2020 meeting.

Concluding its actions on proposals, the commissioner comments included farewells from three current members, Chairman Scott Stickley, Commissioner Ralph Rinaldi, and Commissioner Lorraine Smelser. Each of the three expressed appreciation for the hard work and professionalism of the commission members and the county planning staff. County planning Director Taryn Logan reminded the commissioners that they had made tough decisions and overseen many significant improvements to the county in their tenure and had plenty to be proud of.

Three new commissioners will be selected by the Board of Supervisors to begin service on the board in January.

Watch the entire Warren County Planning Commission meeting on this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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Local Government

Town of Front Royal Business Forum – December 11, 2019



Front Royal Police Chief Kahle Magalis explains some pitfalls on parking enforcement. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

On December 11, 2019, the Town of Front Royal held its quarterly Business Forum at Town Hall.

The agenda included:

  • Community Development/Tourism update – Felicia Hart, Director
  • Community Development Block Grant update
  • Update on facilitator for Gazebo events – Matt Tederick, Interim Town Manager
  • Discussion on parking enforcement
  • Chamber update – Nike Foster

Watch the forum in this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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Local Government

County Supervisors approve ‘2nd Amendment Sanctuary’ designation



On a motion by outgoing Supervisor Tom Sayre, seconded by Archie Fox, by a unanimous 5-0 vote the Warren County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night approved a Resolution adding this community to a list statewide declaring itself a “2nd Amendment Sanctuary”. Tony Carter, absent for a family health situation, voted by remote electronic device to reach the unanimous consensus.

However, exactly what that consensus designation might mean for the County legally if a variety of proposed gun control bills in the coming General Assembly session pass, remains to be seen.

The vote came after the board heard from an overflow crowd that packed Warren County High School’s 1,024-seat capacity auditorium for Tuesday night’s public hearing on the Republican-endorsed “2nd Amendment Sanctuary” request. Prevalent among attendees were “Guns Save Lives” stickers.

A large crowd, both from in and out of Warren County according to addresses given, was present for Tuesday’s 2nd Amendment Sanctuary County Resolution Public Hearing. And the public present was overwhelmingly in favor of County support of the designation. Royal Examiner Photos/Roger Bianchini. Video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

Of over 45 speakers only two spoke against the statewide initiative. At one point in the almost three-hour public hearing, Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Steve Kurtz read a message of support for the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary designation from first-term Sixth District U.S. Congressional successor to Robert Goodlatte, Ben Cline.

“Your God-given liberties can’t be taken by men,” Kurtz quoted Cline telling those assembled against proposed Democratic General Assembly Bills on a variety of gun control issues.

The first speaker against the 2nd Amendment “Sanctuary” initiative came after 19 pro-guns rights speakers. That speaker was Warren County Democratic Committee Chairman Steve Foreman. He urged caution to the board, warning that Warren County officials could once again be placing themselves in the position of creating a long-standing negative historical legacy involving “massive resistance” as in the 1960’s surrounding Civil Rights legislation mandating racial desegregation of public schools.

“Good!” one person in the crowd shouted.

“Go Home,” another suggested to Foreman.

While Foreman was frequently booed and hooted at for his dissension against the overwhelming majority consensus, not all present appeared to agree with that treatment of a dissenting opinion.

The public hearing’s first pro-2nd Amendment Sanctuary speakers were sisters Anna and Chloe. Both lauded the value of NRA gun skills competitions and gun training in their and their family’s lives.

Speaking five spots later, Kenneth Logan apologized for the crowd’s behavior toward Foreman’s dissenting opinion, drawing some scattered, polite applause from a segment of the crowd. Logan then requested the Warren County Supervisors to give him “a way out” of having to face a decision to become a criminal resister to gun control laws on the table of the coming General Assembly session.

It was a sentiment many present addressed, several stating they would become “felons” if proposed gun laws, including a ban on “assault firearms” are enacted. That decision will be made as a matter of conscience and political belief, they noted.

Other speakers called on armed Virginians, particularly those present, to become that “well-regulated militia” referenced in the 2nd Amendment “necessary to the security of a free State”. One such challenge aimed directly at the thousand-plus people in the auditorium drew a huge cheer.

The crowd was enthusiastic in support of this trio of guns rights advocates stance against what are perceived as obtrusive, pending gun laws in Virginia.

That passion appeared tied to a majority consensus that the new Virginia General Assembly House and Senate Democratic majorities, as well as their out-of-state allies, are out to subjugate Virginia, and eventually all of America into a culturally mongrel, anti-prayer-in-schools or public meeting, and now most alarmingly, an unarmed nation ripe for a takeover by a  totalitarian political machine.

And rather from the political right as many on the political left currently appear to believe under way, the 2nd Amendment advocates who spoke characterize such a threat coming from a “liberal-socialist”, “Richmond, Northern Virginia, inside the D.C. Capitol beltway” and “George Soros-funded” political machine.

Of efforts to remove or limit possession of “assault firearms” or military-style rifles converted to semi-automatic (single trigger pull, single shot fired) status, along with other proposed gun control legislation, one speaker surrounded by flag-bearing companions told the crowd, “I’m here to tell you that will not happen, not on my watch. We will not tolerate or sit around while the tyrants in Richmond try to change our way of life …”

‘Not on our watch’ they told the crowd, drawing more cheers

His, among other such assertions were met by loud cheers.

Some speakers stressed the necessity of guns for self-defense against potential attackers and the criminal element they believe is coddled by the political left.

“Think of young women like me — no matter how I fought like they teach you… they could break me like a twig. The only equalizer I have is my gun,” Blue Mountain resident Sarah Faber said, drawing cheers.

However, despite that and other sometimes emotional recounts of encounters with suspicious people or criminals on their property where self-defense was at issue, it was the specter of a pending leftist totalitarian takeover of America that seemed the dominant theme of the public hearing speakers.

The other lone anti-sanctuary speaker was Tom Howarth. He said he believed the proposal before the supervisors was “unconstitutional” rather than a constitutional protection.

Of the aspect of having county sheriffs become actively involved in “Sanctuary” community resistance to potential state laws regarding gun control, Howarth observed, “Even sheriffs can’t say what’s constitutional, that’s for the courts to decide.”

Howarth called a move away from the established legal order of the nation, not a move toward democracy, but rather a move toward anarchy.

Howarth, whose presentation was met with silence, also warned against the all-or-nothing divisive level of political discourse, not only in the Warren County High School auditorium that evening, but in the nation at large.

“We’ve seen this movie before,” Howarth warned, citing the localized state “nullification” movement against legally-established laws in the 1850’s in the political run-up to the outbreak of the American Civil War.

Of the legal questions involved in that era culminating with the federal move to abolish slavery, Howarth noted those questions were answered “at the cost of 640,000 American lives”.

As 2nd Amendment ‘Sanctuary’ drive comes to Warren County, State Democrats have an opportunity to show they do listen – but will they?

Gazebo rally for your 2nd Amendment rights

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EDA in Focus

A new EDA? Town Council approves resolution seeking state’s blessing



FRONT ROYAL — The Front Royal Town Council on Monday unanimously passed a resolution seeking a change in the Code of Virginia that would allow the Town to create its own Economic Development Authority (EDA) if it sees fit to do so.

Specifically, the Town’s newly approved resolution requests that the Virginia General Assembly amend a portion of the State Code to allow just Front Royal, VA, to establish a new EDA that’s “separate and independent” from the existing Front Royal-Warren County EDA, which is embroiled in a multi-million-dollar financial scandal.

“Upon deliberate and studied consideration,” the Town Council “finds that it is to the benefit and betterment of all the inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Virginia, and in particular to the inhabitants of the Town of Front Royal,” that the Town be able to form a Front Royal EDA so that it “can forge its own path forward in the future, unencumbered by the tremendous financial, legal, and reputational burdens currently encumbering the Existing EDA,” according to the resolution.

“First and foremost,” explained Councilman Jacob Meza after motioning to adopt the resolution, “what we are doing is approving a resolution to request the ability to establish our own EDA if we so desire to do so. Photos and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

“Here’s the thing,” Meza continued. “Our current EDA — which you could make the easy argument is ineffective — is going to be really difficult to operate through… at least in the next coming year and possibly years.”

Because of that fact, Meza said the Town Council wanted to be sure to submit its approved resolution prior to the start of the General Assembly’s legislative work that begins in January, “essentially hedging our bets that if our EDA becomes ineffective as a joint Town-County operation, then the Town has the ability to establish its own EDA so that we can continue moving forward on Town projects, especially related to property acquisitions and developments.”

If Front Royal were to miss submitting its request now, then the Town would have to wait to submit it in July 2021, said Meza.

“We wanted to get the ball rolling on this so that we have the option and the ability to continue if needed,” he added.

Councilman Gary Gillispie echoed those sentiments on Monday night.

“Please keep in mind, just because we are asking the General Assembly to authorize Front Royal to have an EDA, it does not necessarily mean that we’re going to launch into it,” Gillispie read from a prepared statement. “Once authorized, we can commence the process to determine if it’s in the best interests of the community.”

To avoid a potential legal hurdle, the Town Council seeks the State Code change without withdrawing from its current legal interest in the existing EDA.

“It appears to the Town that as long as there are outstanding and unpaid Existing EDA bonds and indebtedness, the Town cannot even rescind it ordinance co-creating the Existing EDA all, in which case the Town would not even be able to create a separate Town EDA which could fund Town EDA facilities either inside the Town’s corporate boundaries,” the resolution states.

In fact, the current EDA is saddled with outstanding and unpaid bonds and other indebtedness for private and public facilities, including hospitals and schools, states the resolution, which also pointed out that “apparently the Existing EDA likely will become insolvent sometime in the year 2020.”

“In my opinion, the current EDA is insolvent,” Councilman Gillispie read from his prepared statement. “I don’t see a way to get it back to solvency.”

The Town Council’s resolution also acknowledges, among other items, that if the Town did rescind its ordinance for co-creating the existing EDA, then it would waive its rights to share in one-half of any of the funds and properties held by the existing EDA at the time it was dissolved.

Such action “might well be construed as wastage of Town assets by Town Council, and thereby construed as legal misfeasance on the part of Town officials, which would be unacceptable to the Town,” the resolution.

The Town Council in its resolution also wasn’t shy about laying out reasons for why it wants to form its own EDA.

For instance, the six-page document outlines “the legal and financial troubles” of the existing EDA’s former executive director Jennifer McDonald, who “has been creditably accused and has been indicted in excess of 30 felony charges in connection with criminal charges related to alleged misappropriation of Existing EDA and Town funds.”

Additionally, the resolution says that McDonald — who isn’t named in the document but only referred to as the ‘former executive director’ — “has been civilly sued in the Circuit Court of Warren County, Virginia, by the Existing EDA for over $21 million in damages in relation to said alleged misappropriation of said funds.”

The resolution also makes it clear that the “Town, Town Council, Town officials and Town employees had no role whatsoever in the former executive director’s actions,” and is civilly suing the existing EDA and McDonald in Warren County Circuit Court for $15 million in damages.

The resolution also says that the “brand” of the current EDA “has been so badly damaged as to make it very difficult, if not impossible, for the Existing EDA to attract new commerce and industry
into the Town.”

And the Town charges that “there is an inherent conflict of interest” on the part of existing EDA officials and employees who appear to favor attracting new commerce and industry “to benefit the County as opposed to the Town.”

For these and other reasons, the Town Council proposed a change to Virginia Code 15.2-4905 (Powers of authority section) that would grant the Front Royal Town Council the power to create its own industrial development authority (IDA).

“The purpose of an EDA or IDA is to bring economic development to a community where it is authorized,” Gillispie read. “It is also important to give existing businesses support to help them compete and stay profitable.”

Front Royal needs good-paying jobs, the councilman added, and there are several business parks within the Town limits that also need development.

“We just need someone who can market our Town and be able to go to Richmond or wherever it’s needed to get this accomplished,” said Gillispie, who added, if the General Assembly accepts the Town’s request and amends State Code, then Town Council members will work diligently to put safeguards in place that ensure such financial fraud never happens again.

Following Meza’s motion on adoption of the resolution, with a second from Councilman Chris Holloway, the members of the Front Royal Town Council, including Vice Mayor William Sealock and Councilmen Gillispie and Letasha Thompson, all voted yes to approve it.

Watch the Town Council meeting on this Royal Examiner video:

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As 2nd Amendment ‘Sanctuary’ drive comes to Warren County, State Democrats have an opportunity to show they do listen – but will they?



The alarm of Second Amendment guns rights advocates to the content of at least one of, if not all eight Virginia State House and Senate Bills on gun control proposed for consideration in the first General Assembly session since Democrats seized majorities in both houses for the first time since 1994 is coming to Warren County this Tuesday evening, December 10.

In the wake of around one thousand people showing up for the Shenandoah County Board Public Hearing on a Resolution of Support for a municipal declaration as a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Community, the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Public Hearing has been moved to a Special Meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at Warren County High School’s auditorium. The board’s regular meeting will be held at 9 a.m. Tuesday morning at the Warren County Government Center.

A rally in support of the initiative endorsed by the Warren County Republican Committee will be held in the Front Royal Village Commons/Gazebo area at 7 p.m. Monday, December 9. There were also four sites where supporting petitions were set up for signing on Saturday, December 7 in Front Royal.

The 2nd Amendment Sanctuary City initiative has been circulated to municipalities around the Commonwealth of Virginia. Two people speaking at the end of the November 19 Warren County Board of Supervisors meeting introduced the initiative here. Those speakers were Bonlyn Hawley and Ross McVey. You may see their comments in their entirety in the linked Royal Examiner video.

At issue for these gun rights advocates are House Bills 2 and 9 introduced respectively by Kenneth R. Plum and Jeffrey M. Bourne (uh oh, a Bourne Initiative – oh wait, that was Jason); and Senate Bills 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 18.

SB 12, 14, 16 and 18 were proposed by incoming Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw, D-Fairfax, with SB 13 and 15 from the desk of Adam P. Ebbin. All of the gun control bill sponsors are Democrats.

After hearing the extreme degree of alarm expressed by Hawley and McVey to the County Supervisors on November 19, one gun owner in the room decided to explore what was at the source of that alarm which indicated a belief that local law enforcement agencies would soon be recruited by the new State General Assembly Democratic majority to go door to door gathering up everyone’s firearms.

The refrain from an earlier round of 2nd Amendment alarmism, “They’ll have to pry this gun from my cold, dead hands,” resurrected during the Obama presidency I believe, came back to me. Actually, my hands did get dead cold during the Obama years, but it wasn’t because anyone was trying to pry my firearm from them. Actually, we all survived Obama’s eight years, firearms intact and unseized.

So, is it “here we go again” partisan paranoia or is there more substance at the root of this call for municipal boards to declare “sanctuary” from any higher effort to enact truly oppressive gun control legislation?

I will explore each of the proposed Democrat-sponsored gun control bills in detail below. Several revolve around making background checks mandatory; one makes reporting a stolen or lost gun mandatory; two make it illegal to carry weapons into either the State “Capitol Square” complex in Richmond or any building “owned or leased by the Commonwealth”; one bans devices like bump stocks that convert legal semi-automatic weapons into machine-gun burst firing weapons; and another raises the age at which young people can buy a gun, or use one without adult supervision. However, none of these appear to rise to the level of requiring sanctuary from a fear your guns are going to be seized at the order of the new Democratic General Assembly majority.

But let’s cut to the chase – are there any of these proposed House or Senate Bills that raise legitimate alarm bells about weapons seizures or substantive 2nd Amendment Rights violations?

Which brings us to SB 16.

SB 16 “Expands the definition of ‘assault firearm’ and prohibits any person from importing, selling, transferring, manufacturing, purchasing, possessing, or transporting an assault firearm” and “prohibits a dealer from selling, renting, trading, or transferring from his inventory an assault firearm to any person.” Violations are Class 6 felonies.

SB 16 also prohibits “carrying a shotgun with a magazine that will hold more than seven rounds of the longest ammunition for which it is chambered in a public place”. It is noted that under current state law such a prohibition “applies only in certain localities”.

And SB 16 “makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to import, sell, barter, or transfer any firearm magazine designed to hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.”

2nd Amendment Alarm bells

And here is where the 2nd Amendment red flags – wait, is “red flag” a bad term to use here? – begin waving.

After some extensive online searching we found a specific reference on exactly what that “expanded definition” of “assault firearm” entails in an article on the topic in the Free Lance Star of Fredericksburg. That Ken Perrotte article stated that, “Modern, semi-automatic (one trigger pull, one shot, multiple-round magazine) sporting rifles or even small semi-automatic rimfires and shotguns with features like thumbhole stocks or pistol grips–features that, ironically, make the firearm safer to handle – would become illegal.”

So, if SB 16 proposes to put a blanket prohibition on, not only the future selling of currently legal semi-automatic weapons, but possession of ones currently owned legally simply if they carry multiple-round clips and/or have certain safety features attached, there you have a 2nd Amendment issue worthy of serious legislative pushback and debate.

But rather than focus on lobbying every municipality in Virginia to essentially declare itself a “sanctuary” community from a proposed State Code change that would appear to go too far in trying to stem the tide of mass shooting gun violence in America, why not engage those local municipal officials to in turn engage their state representatives to participate in that legislative debate before SB 16 reaches the Senate floor for a vote?

This reporter has rarely been accused of being a political conservative – and as my conservative friends know, don’t you dare call me a liberal. That said, I would write Royal Examiner editorials in support of removal of the oppressive aspects of SB 16 as they apply to currently legally-owned semi-automatic weapons.

Another aspect of SB 16, the maximum clip or magazine size, is another legitimate topic for legislative debate. Should the general public have access to military-sized clips carrying 30 or more rounds? Is a 10-round clip limit too small or too large for recreational shooting use? Is there justification for public access to larger clip sizes, and if so, how large? Correct me if I’m wrong hunters, but to my knowledge semi-automatic assault-style rifles and their large clips are not legal for hunting, and certainly wouldn’t be very sporting if they were.

Compromise is a key element of any democratically-based system of government. Withdrawal from the legislative debate, in favor of declaring “sanctuary” from something that does not yet legally exist would not appear to be the optimum course of political action.

Why not head that lone proposed substantial threat to your 2nd Amendment rights off at the pass?

Why not approach SB 16 sponsor Richard L. Saslaw and say, “Look you give on SB 16 and we’ll give on mandatory background checks, bump stock prohibitions, the age our kids can hunt on their own, and even stewing in the General Assembly Halls with our still legal handguns, Bowie Knives and Ninja throwing stars”?

Who knows what such a logical path of legislative discourse might achieve?

And I hope this isn’t a stretch because if the above-cited expanded definition is accurate, what is left to be defined as a legal “assault firearm” – plastic toy ones firing puff balls? So I am hoping that something I noticed about two of SB 16’s companion bills, SB 18 and SB 14, leave room to maneuver on SB 16.

First, HB 18 actually contains a passage that “raises the age from 18 to 21 for any person to knowingly and intentionally possess or transport a handgun or assault firearm anywhere in the Commonwealth.”

If the Democrats and their new Senate majority leader collectively believe they can make “assault firearms” essentially illegal in Virginia with passage of SB 16, why bother to raise the age to be able to legally transport them in the Commonwealth in SB 18?

And Saslaw is sponsor of both SB 16 and SB 18, as he is sponsor of SB 14 which prohibits bump stocks and other devices that convert semi-automatic weapons into machine gun burst firearms. So, it appears that two Saslaw-sponsored bills anticipate the continued legality of semi-automatic “assault firearms” of some kind.

What is crucial to this discussion is exactly what is left once that expanded definition of “assault firearm” is applied and will Saslaw and his colleagues be willing to listen to legitimate criticism of SB 16 as counterproductive on firearm safety and too obtrusive in its proposed redefinition and banning of assault firearms?

Legislative debate with an open mind is always a good thing from either side of the legislative aisle – or is it too late in our political evolution to ask for anything beyond partisan intransigence from either political party?

It would be a show of good faith for the newly-empowered Virginia Democrats to be able to admit a potential legislative overreach, and say to all Virginia’s citizens, “Yes, perhaps we have gone too far here and we ARE willing to listen and act to correct our mistake based on well-founded opposition arguments.

Such a move might not only play well across Virginia, but across the Potomac River where U.S. House Democrats are accusing their Republican counterparts of a collective unwillingness to acknowledge factual evidence and testimony regarding another fundamental Constitutional issue, presidential accountability.

The rest of the package

Now, lets go in detail to the two House Bills and five other Senate Bills on the table for the upcoming General Assembly session.

HB 2 “Requires a background check for any firearm transfer and directs the Department of State Police (the Department) to establish a process for transferors to obtain such a check from licensed firearms dealers.”

Such checks would become mandatory, rather than voluntary. Selling without the required background check would be declared a Class 6 felony; receipt of a firearm without the required background check would be classified a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Okay, I can live with background checks. In fact, in the face of the rising tide of mass shooting violence in America I believe a majority of Americans, perhaps even a majority of gun owners, support them.

HB 9 “Requires that, if a firearm is lost or stolen from a person who lawfully possessed it, such person shall report the loss or theft of the firearm to any local law-enforcement agency or the Department of State Police within 24 hours after such person discovers the loss or theft or is informed by a person with personal knowledge of the loss or theft.”

Reporting the loss or theft of a firearm “in good faith” provides immunity for that person “from criminal or civil liability for acts resulting from” the loss or theft of their gun. That immunity “does not apply to a person who knowingly gives a false report” and HB 9 “does not apply to the loss or theft of an antique firearm.”

Okay, this one actually protects a gun owner from liability for subsequent actions committed with their stolen or lost weapon – good to go so far.

Okay, let’s see what else is up with the State Senate Democrats.

SB 12 “Requires a background check for any firearm transfer and requires the Department of State Police to establish a process for transferors of firearms to obtain such a check from licensed firearms dealers. A transferor who fails to obtain a required background check and sells the firearm to another person is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.”

Okay, this appears to be the Senate mirror of House Bill 2 making such checks mandatory; and with the same exemptions: “The bill exempts transfers (i) between immediate family members; (ii) that occur by operation of law; (iii) by the executor or administrator of an estate or by the trustee of a testamentary trust; (iv) at firearms shows in accordance with law; (v) that are part of a buyback or give-back program; (vi) of antique firearms; (vii) that occur at a shooting range, shooting gallery, or any other area designed for the purpose of target shooting or for use during target practice, a firearms safety or training course or class, a shooting competition, or any similar lawful activity; or (viii) that are temporary transfers that (a) occur within the continuous presence of the owner of the firearm or (b) are necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.”

SB 13 makes it a Class 1 misdemeanor to bring, not just guns, but a variety of dangerous or lethal weapons on to “Capitol Square” in Richmond where the State Legislature meets. Capitol Square is defined to include “the state-owned buildings that border its boundary streets.”

Weapons banned from these state government buildings, which must have the prohibition prominently displayed for those entering, include “a bowie knife, switchblade knife, ballistic knife, machete, razor, slingshot, spring stick, fighting chain, throwing star, and oriental dart or any weapon of like kind” as well as firearm accessories, including “frame, receiver, muffler, silencer, missile, projectile, or ammunition designed for use with a dangerous weapon”.

“The bill provides exceptions for law-enforcement officers, conservators of the peace, magistrates, court officers, judges, county or city treasurers, commissioners or deputy commissioners of the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, authorized security personnel, and active military personnel while in the conduct of such individuals’ official duties.”

Any such weapon or accessory seized is subject to seizure and “forfeiture to the Commonwealth.”

Okay, sort of annoying if you forgot you had your Bowie Knife or handgun on your belt as you entered the State Capitol complex, but hey, it’s a misdemeanor offense.

Don’t understand why State General Assemblymen would be so paranoid as not to allow a heavily armed audience in to listen to their legislative debates in this day and age.

SB 14 makes it a Class 6 felony to manufacture, import, sell, possess, transfer or transport devices that convert semi-automatic guns into automatic, essentially machine gun-style weapons, even for “two or more shots in a burst”.

Okay, machine guns are illegal to possess by current law and with mass shootings so popular as a means of lashing out at things you don’t like, this one’s probably not such a bad idea.

SB 15 essentially is an expansion of SB 13, making it illegal to carry a variety of lethal weapons or accessories into any building “owned or leased by the Commonwealth”. It carries the same exceptions for law enforcement, security and military personnel in the conduct of their jobs.

And finally there is SB 18, which “Provides that a person must be at least 21 years old, or must be at least 18 years old by the effective date of the bill, to purchase a firearm.” The bill also contains the mandatory background check provision and additional prohibitions designed to protect children, and perhaps to protect children from themselves.

SB 18 makes it a Class 6 felony for an adult to “recklessly leave a loaded, unsecured firearm in such a manner as to endanger the life or limb of any person under the age of 18”. It adds Class 1 misdemeanor status to any person who “knowingly” allows a child under 18 “to use a firearm except when the person is under the supervision of an adult.”

The bill notes that current law applies Class 3 misdemeanor status to adults who leave unsecured firearms in a reckless manner around children under 14; and Class 1 misdemeanor status to any adult who allows a child under 12 to use a firearm without adult supervision.

Perhaps with an eye toward student-generated school shootings, SB 18 “also raises the age from 18 to 21 for any person to knowingly and intentionally possess or transport a handgun or assault firearm anywhere in the Commonwealth.”

Can there be debate on the maturity level of teens at various ages, sure. But in the case of lethal weapons and childhood why not err on the side of caution?

And that’s a wrap – so what’s the verdict in your mind?

Do we need to declare “sanctuary” against a new partisan majority determined to violate all of our 2nd Amendment rights, or do we simply need to engage the State Democrats in a rational debate about how to best stem the tide of mass shootings and general gun violence in Virginia and America without violating anyone’s 2nd Amendment right to possess or bear reasonable and safe firearms legally?

Maybe we should try the latter first and have the former in the legislative “oven” just in case.

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Local Government

Warren County Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting – December 5, 2019



Warren County Board of Zoning Appeals. Photo and video by Mark Williams, Royal Examiner.

At the December 5th Warren County Board of Zoning Appeals Meeting, a public hearing was held on a request from Franklin and Sherry Barb, for a variance to Warren County Code 180-23(I)(1) to allow a forty (40) foot front yard setback for an accessory structure in lieu of the required fifty (50) foot setback. A ten (10) foot variance was sought. Variance was approved.

Watch the meeting here on this exclusive Royal Examiner video:

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King Cartoons

‘Tis the Season


Front Royal
07:2216:51 EST
Feels like: 31°F
Wind: 3mph S
Humidity: 64%
Pressure: 30.55"Hg
UV index: 0
min 27°F


Upcoming Events

6:00 pm Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Dec 13 @ 6:00 pm – 8:30 pm
Holiday Open House @ Ruby Yoga
Ruby Yoga will host a Holiday Open House Friday, Dec. 13. Doors open at 6 p.m. with free gentle yoga starting at 6:20, followed by refreshments and door prize drawings.
7:30 pm Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
Dec 13 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Canticum Novum: Sing a New Song @ Front Royal Presbyterian Church
The Blue Ridge Singers presents its 2019 Christmas concert titled “Canticum Novum:  Sing a New Song” featuring some of the finest Christmas choral music across the centuries at one of the most popular events in[...]
11:00 am Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 12:30 pm
Celebrate George Washington @ Samuels Public Library
December 14 is the 220th anniversary of George Washington’s death. Today we will learn more about this great leader of our country and celebrate his legacy. Refreshments will be served. For ages 7 to 18.[...]
11:00 am Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Dec 14 @ 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
Saturday with Santa @ Warren County Community Center
Bring the kids and your camera for yummy snacks, crafts, and a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus! All are welcome!
1:00 pm “Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
“Clara, Little Mouse & the Golde... @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Dec 14 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
"Clara, Little Mouse & the Golden Key" @ Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Join us for this original version of the timeless story ballet The Nutcracker Suite. Follow Clara and Little Mouse on a journey to find what the Golden Key unlocks… Christmas will never be the same[...]
4:00 pm R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas C... @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
Dec 15 @ 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
R-MA Hosts Community Christmas Concert @ Randolph-Macon Academy | Boggs Chapel
The local community is invited to join the Randolph-Macon Academy family for an afternoon of holiday spirit with the R-MA Band and Chorus! The annual R-MA Christmas Concert will be held on Sunday, December 15th,[...]
4:30 pm Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 17 @ 4:30 pm – 6:00 pm
Science Scouts and More @ Samuels Public Library
Tuesday, December 3: Kids will explore popular books and book series through science, games, food, and more! After reading a Christmas story, we’ll discuss giving and how it affects us and the people around us.[...]
7:30 pm Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Dec 17 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Christmas Concert @ Boggs Chapel on the R-MA Campus
Christmas Concert | Presented by the American Legion Community Band Tuesday, December 17, 2019, at 7:30 pm Boggs Chapel on the R-MA campus in Front Royal, VA
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 18 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]
10:15 am Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
Dec 19 @ 10:15 am – 12:00 pm
Toddler and Preschool Story Time @ Samuels Public Library
10:15 Toddler story time | 11:00 Preschool story time Wednesday, December 4 and Thursday, December 5: Gingerbread and Candy Canes will be the delicious theme of our stories, songs, and craft this week! Siblings welcome.[...]