By Preston Knight -- firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Minutes could save town officials days of headaches in the future.
The conflict coming out of a developer proposing to build a Popeye's chicken/Papa John's pizza restaurant combo to 33699 Old Valley Pike and ditching the idea after meeting with the Planning Commission in May will not go away. That has to do with some officials and residents refusing to let it, but one solution for future issues is to offer the public a verbatim reading of a meeting's minutes.
In response to recent letters to the editor in The Northern Virginia Daily, Commissioner Carl Rinker addressed Town Council on Tuesday night to offer his public opinion on what happened. He also spoke about it at last month's Planning Commission meeting.
Rinker said the May meeting was not a negative one, and the developer, Mansoor Awan, left with "his tail between his legs" and tainted the Planning Commission as negative. Awan pulled his rezoning application for the restaurants the next day.
Rinker said the Realtor put her cart "way ahead" of the horse, and his issue with Popeye's was how its appearance, as proposed, could contribute to an "asphalt jungle" of similar businesses along Strasburg's entrance corridor.
One of the property owners, Mike Keffer, responded publicly for the first time at Tuesday's meeting. He said the Popeye's offer was just the second in a few years on the property, the first plan stalling because of an issue with proffers. Keffer said based on his reading of the minutes from the May meeting -- they are available online -- he didn't think commissioners gave Awan much respect, and instead every reason to leave.
"I wouldn't invest in this town, either," he said.
As he did at last month's Planning Commission meeting, Councilman Scott Terndrup proposed looking into technology that would enable town officials to record meeting minutes verbatim, which he said Shenandoah County does. Whether that would help put an end to something like the Popeye's issue is anyone's guess.
"I'm still looking for answers," Keffer said.
Also Tuesday, the Town Council:
• Approved the final plat for the Smithfield subdivision, which will be 12 duplexes from developer Dave Holliday at the northern end of Stonewall Street.
A final plat was approved in 2005 and again in 2008, but never recorded at the Circuit Court, causing the town's action to expire, records state.
• Agreed to limit on-street parking on East Washington Street, between Holliday and Massanutten streets, to only the southern portion, effective as soon as signs can go up and curb painting is conducted. The width of the street and other safety considerations are the reasons.
• Amended the current budget to reduce wages and benefits in the Police Department because of the elimination of a position.
As a result, there are $43,200 in savings, of which $5,000 was designated to small equipment for the police unit and $38,200 sent to the general fund reserve.