By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL -- A Warren County proposal aimed at illegally parked vehicles drew support and fire from two neighborhoods this week.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday delayed action on a proposed ordinance to let Shenandoah Farms residents come up with options. Two supervisors asked the residents to come back to board with suggestions on how the county could help curb the problem of illegal parking in their neighborhood.
The board held a hearing on ordinance that would allow the county to remove or dispose of any vehicle, trailer or semi-trailer illegally parked and in violation of posted signs on any public highway or property.
After hearing opposition to the proposal from Shenandoah Farms residents - and support by representatives of the High Knob neighborhood - supervisors voted to table the matter.
Supervisor Richard Traczyk, whose district includes Shenandoah Farms, suggested the board put off any action on the proposal given the differing views from the two neighborhoods. Supervisor Dan Murray Jr. echoed Traczyk's sentiment.
"Tell us what works for you," Murray said. "That's what we need and, from there, things can happen."
Assistant County Attorney Dan Whitten said residents have complained about vehicles parked along roads in neighborhoods during winter weather events. High Knob and Shenandoah Farms have designated parking areas, Whitten said. However, residents of both subdivisions park on either side of the neighborhood roads. This makes it difficult for trucks with plows to remove snow, Whitten said.
Whitten told the board no parking signs must be posted before the county can tow vehicles.
County Administrator Douglas Stanley said vehicles along the short section of High Top Road near the entrance of Shenandoah Farms are parked illegally anyway.
High Knob subdivision representatives asked if they could post no parking signs along snow emergency routes, Whitten said. The county code identifies certain private roads as public highways for law enforcement purposes, according to Whitten.
The attorney distributed photographs that show vehicles parked along High Top Road.
Stanley noted, "They're already violating the law, every vehicle you see in those pictures."
He added, "This would give the county the ability to tow. VDOT may or may not already have that ability now but as far as enforcement 42 miles of the Farms roads are private, not subject to VDOT's signage."
Don Day, president of the High Knob Owner's Association board of directors, spoke in favor of the proposal. Day said vehicles left on or along the side of the road during bad weather thwart clearing efforts by snow plow operators.
Day noted that at least a dozen of the subdivision's 460-plus residents are 80-years old or older. He expressed concern that illegally parked vehicles may block emergency vehicles from reaching people in need.
The association posted on its website in January an alert warning residents that it would enforce the subdivision's parking regulations. High Knob forbids parking vehicles on, along the side or within 25 feet of the center of the road, according to the alert.
The ordinance as proposed would allow High Knob's maintenance manager to call and have vehicles towed, Day said. The subdivision already has the ability to call the Warren County Sheriff's Office to report violators and have vehicles towed.
Jerry Pomeroy, field services manager for High Knob, plows snow for the neighborhood. He said that often newer residents unfamiliar with mountain terrain find their vehicles stuck in the snow and can block the plow truck.
Pomeroy offered to help remove illegally parked vehicles to clear roads for tow trucks.
But Shenandoah Farms residents spoke out against the proposed ordinance. Several homeowners told the board the section of High Top Road from Freezeland Road into the subdivision serves as a place for residents who live farther into the neighborhood to park their vehicles if they don't feel they can make it back home. Many of the roads remain too steep for smaller vehicles, residents said, and drivers find themselves stuck.
Earlier at the meeting, a few residents lauded the county's efforts to plow snow from the roads included in the Shenandoah Farm Sanitary District. But roads may still remain impassable, some residents told the board.
Some Shenandoah Farms speakers suggested the county expand the current parking area for the subdivision to accommodate the extra vehicles usually parked along High Top Road.
Ed Carter, assistant residency administrator for Virginia, told the board he would look into whether the state may make arrangements to allow parking during inclement weather on one side of High Top Road.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org