By Alex Bridges -- email@example.com
FRONT ROYAL -- A group that gave land to Warren County for a park criticized officials for letting a contractor use the site to store supplies for a nearby project.
Fishnet Ministries sold 219 acres of its property off Fishnet Boulevard in 2005 under the agreement the county would develop the land into a park, according to Larry Andes, president of the non-profit group.
But a contractor working on the nearby site of the Dominion power plant has used part of the property close to the ministries offices as a laydown area for construction materials, Andes told the Warren County Board of Supervisors Tuesday night. Andes spoke during a public hearing on a deed of dedication for a right-of-way for an extension of Fishnet Boulevard.
Andes told supervisors the piling and storing of materials appears close to 1,100 feet border of the ministry's current 17-acre office property which lies to the north of the park land. Andes said traffic and excavation "greatly expanded" in recent weeks and, late last month he contacted County Supervisor Douglas Stanley with questions about the park. Stanley, according to Andes, said the contractor would be using the park site to store construction items for the next 18 months during work on the plant.
Andes said he supported the proposed extension of Fishnet Boulevard. Supervisors voted 5-0 in favor of the deed and dedication.
After the hearing outside the conference room Andes said he accepted the explanation Stanley and supervisors gave. But Andes expressed ongoing worry about the possibility of the ministries having to see construction materials near their offices for the next 18 months to two years.
But as Andes told supervisors the traffic and the amount of materials in the laydown area continues to grow.
"Your decision to limit the visibility coming to the property admits that you knew the site would not be pretty to the visitors of the property but you apparently did not show any concern about the visual mess that's been created and the industrial excavation that's been created along our 1,100 foot southern border," Andes said. "It's all that we see when we look to our site down south."
Andes complained that Stanley and other county officials did not make attempts to contact him or the ministries to advise them of the pending laydown by the construction firm.
"Fishnet Ministries sold this parcel of choice property to the county in good faith it would become a county park and now it's quite clear to us that either you had oversight or have been very insensitive to our good will and generosity, kindness and cooperativeness over the years," Andes said.
Stanley said he took responsibility for not staying in contact with Andes and his organization. The county's zoning ordinance allows a construction firm to temporarily store materials on the future park property, Stanley explained. However, the contractor is helping the county save what Stanley estimated as hundreds of thousands of dollars by grading the park area in use.
"There was never an intent to put anything but a park there," said Shenandoah District Supervisor Richard H. Traczyk who represents the area in question. "There was no intent to put any industrial development on that site."
Supervisors Chairman Archie A. Fox also apologized for an apparent lack of communication with the ministry.
Last year the Board of Supervisors approved a deed of dedication for a right-of-way to provide for the improvement of Fishnet Boulevard into Rockland Park approximately 2,535 feet to a temporary cul-de-sac. However, the Virginia Department of Transportation informed the county there is not enough money to extend the road improvements an additional 500 feet. The county surveyed and platted a proposed extension to the road improvement project. The plat shows a vacation of the existing temporary cul-de-sac and the dedication of the extension to a temporary 3-point turnaround at the end of the extension.