By Alex Bridges
FRONT ROYAL - A Warren County neighborhood can expect to see improvements to some of its roads starting this summer.
The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the 2013 Capital Improvement Plan for the Shenandoah Farms Sanitary District. The board voted 4-0 after holding a public hearing on the plan. Supervisor Dan Murray Jr. did not attend the meeting.
Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress gave a summary of the events leading up to the creation of the plan. Childress, also the acting manager of the district, told the board he expects to see work begin on some of the projects in the plan this summer.
The plan as endorsed by the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms and approved by the board calls for $3.93 million in road projects, including $3.71 million in the Rural Addition/Revenue Sharing program through the Virginia Department of Transportation. The remaining $217,500 goes to internal improvements not qualified in the program, such as the installation of stop signs and guardrails.
The county should have enough money to pay for the first four of the projects listed on the plan, all of which VDOT has approved for state funding in the program, Childress said. Money set aside by the county along with fees paid by the property owners should fully fund the internal improvements, Childress said.
Critics of the county's handling of the district's crumbling roads did not appear for the public hearing. Instead, several residents, including members of the Property Owners of Shenandoah Farms, spoke in favor of the plan and lauded Childress for his work with the neighborhood. Directors Matt Pearson and Ralph Rinaldi voiced support for the plan.
"As a director of the board I support the capital improvement plan as long as those roads that fall outside the scope of revenue-sharing are given the same considerations as those that do qualify," Pearson said.
Rinaldi, a resident of the Farms for 18 years and a member of its board for 15, spoke highly of Childress, noting the official's background in transportation and finance as well as his "people skills."
"I think he and the POSF have thoroughly looked at the plan," Rinaldi said. "Is it perfect? Probably not - but what is? But it's a start and I believe that this plan will be good for all of Warren County."
Improvements and growth in the sanitary district likely would lead to higher property values, Rinaldi said.
Larry Poppek, also a director, recalled seeing a lot of change in his 40 years of living in the neighborhood. Poppek said he supported the plan and Childress. Poppek expressed interest in one project - improvements to Old Oak Lane from Mosby's Meadow Lane to Thompson's Mill Road, not yet approved by VDOT.
Tammy Furr and her family moved to the Farms from Gainesville 12 years ago to get away from busy streets and speeding traffic. But since then, Furr said the traffic has increased as a result of housing construction in the neighborhood. Furr noted that Old Oak Lane serves as a main road in and out of the Farms, with heavy traffic in the morning and afternoon. Thompson's Mill Road also has heavy traffic.
"I don't know so much about the other roads, but Thompson's Mill and Old Oak are a priority," Furr said. "They're a priority for me because I live on Thompson's Mill; Old Oak because I see the cars traveling and I travel that road. Being that it's gravel, it's dangerous."
Rain negates efforts to repair potholes along the gravel roads, Furr said.
"I know why people were against it being paved," Furr added. "I used to be that person because I thought it would cause people to drive faster. These people are going to drive fast regardless. The difference is now they're trying to avoid potholes so now they're swerving over into my lane where I'm coming with my kids to go to the bus stop."
Supervisor Richard Traczyk, whose district includes the neighborhood, said the calls he received about road problems decreased greatly after the county took over the Farms and began working with the property owners group.
"So I'm just as pleased as can be that we've gotten as far as we have," Traczyk said. "It's taken a long time and I'm going to support this motion whole-heartedly."
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org