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Posted February 5, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Board hears complaints about district roads

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL - A couple of Shenandoah Farms residents say Warren County can do a better job of repairing the roads in their rural subdivision.

The Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting heard from Lynda McDonough and Dee Schools who complained about the county's service in the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District.

McDonough, of High Top Road, told supervisors she and neighbors feared that the county might block off nearby Switchback Road, the only emergency exit for the subdivision. McDonough also argued that visitors, not residents, use some of the subdivision roads to ride ATVs.

Both speakers told the board maintenance of the roads has declined since Chris Fisher, the district manager, left and the county position remains unfilled. Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress assumed the manager's duties after Fisher left. The speakers acknowledged that Childress already has many other responsibilities.

"They are looking a little bit better, but without having a general manager for the sanitary district it has just really gone really downhill," McDonough said.

McDonough and Schools commented that culverts were not being dug out and thus lead to flooding during heavy rains. McDonough noted that she saw a backhoe in the neighborhood Monday. But a manager would help workers in the district maintain the roads, according to McDonough.

"I know that they're trying," McDonough said. "It's a very large place."

But Schools and McDonough also expressed frustration that county officials were not taking their complaints and concerns seriously.

Schools, of Freeze Road, recalled that she has called the county more than once in the past few months to complain that work on the culverts and grading of the roads had not been done as often as in the past. But Schools said she was told the residents were at fault for clogging the culverts and causing ruts in the roads.

"I could care less whose fault it is - just fix the roads," Schools said.

Schools complained to the board that the county has money to spend on revenue-sharing projects with the Virginia Department of Transportation, some of which would pave sections of roads not in Shenandoah Farms subdivision. Schools argued that some of the revenue-sharing projects appear to benefit people outside the neighborhood, such as one that leads to a proposed boat ramp or another to serve a county refuse collection site.

"All these revenue-sharing projects and it's taken me four months to get a culvert cleaned out that's been a problem since 2007," Schools said.

Schools told the board that the culvert in question was cleaned out Monday, not long after she told a county official she planned to speak about the issue to the board on Tuesday.

"It's not right," Schools said. "It's our money. Our money should be going towards our roads and making them safe and maintaining them before they go to all these revenue-sharing projects."

Schools noted that sanitary district money went to pay for a turnaround area for VDOT vehicles on High Top Road. She said VDOT doesn't use it.

County officials have said revenue-sharing projects would better serve Shenandoah Farms than constantly re-grading neighborhood roads with gravel that washes away over time.

County Administrator Douglas Stanley, after the meeting, explained that Switchback Road remains a private drive through the subdivision but available in the event of emergencies.

Stanley noted that the county has received more compliments than complaints for maintenance of the roads.

The county has not yet hired a replacement for Fisher. The county received approximately 60 applications and offered the job to two people, both of whom turned it down. Now the county is looking at restarting the application process. In addition to the manager position, the county included in the current fiscal budget a foreman and a part-time secretary for district operations, Stanley explained.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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