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Posted March 7, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

EDA director says Kratos plan wouldn't affect authority's mission

By Sally Voth

A redevelopment proposal for Front Royal from an outside firm wouldn't be stepping on the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, according Executive Director Jennifer McDonald.

But McDonald said Thursday that she couldn't talk about what was discussed in closed session with Kratos Infrastructure.

"What they have presented to us in our closed session, they would not be doing the same thing that we do," she said. "Our mission is to create jobs and a higher tax base than what we currently have. We do it all -- we help existing companies, we help expanding businesses that are looking to our area, start up businesses that want to come to the area. We work with the large companies down to the mom-and-pop companies.

"I think what they're doing is redevelopment. They're not doing economic development, so they would look at areas that they could develop within the town," McDonald said.

Front Royal Town Councilman Bret Hrbek has been strenuously touting a proposed partnership with Kratos that could lead to large-scale development that could include a hospital, wellness center, hotel, shops and restaurants, housing and a solar field.

Kratos, which is based in McLean and is managed by former Front Royal Town Manager Michael Graham, has been meeting with the EDA and town officials to discuss forming a public-private partnership.

Also on the Kratos leadership team are former Town Councilman Tom Conkey and William Lauterbach, who was involved in the town's proposed SolAVerde solar farm project a few years ago.

Hrbek is urging his colleagues to sign a non-binding letter of intent with Kratos at Monday's Town Council meeting.

Councilman Hollis Tharpe said Thursday he's still "digesting" the letter of intent.

"We're going to vote on it Monday. I don't know how far it will go," he said.

Tharpe said he thinks the intent of the proposal is "good."

"I just don't know if it's going to fly," he said. "I know there's some issues with it."

Tharpe said Town Attorney Douglas Napier could elaborate on what those issues were, but when contacted Thursday, Napier said he was still working through them and not in a position to discuss them.

Tharpe said his main concern with the project involved the generation of electricity since the town already has the lowest electric rates in the state.

Contact staff writer Sally Voth at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or svoth@nvdaily.com


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