By Alex Bridges
Talks over the U.S. 340-522 North Corridor between Front Royal and Warren County may get third-party help.
Issues remain over how the town and county will share the business-heavy corridor. The matter of compensation for revenue lost because the town can't collect meals tax from businesses remains unresolved. But concerns over the roads and other infrastructure needs in the corridor also remain.
Front Royal Mayor Timothy Darr and county supervisors Chairman Archie Fox began meeting one-on-one about 90 days ago to discuss the corridor issues. Supervisors and council set a timeframe during which the representatives would try to come up with options on how to resolve issues with the corridor.
"It ebbs and flows," Darr said. "I don't want to say it is moving forward. I don't know if we've made any progress or not. We came up with some ideas and neither the Board of Supervisors nor my council could agree to anything Chairman Fox and I suggested."
Darr added that his conversations with the chairman have been "nothing but professional," and he's enjoyed the opportunity.
The county had suggested at one point to study the matter first and then pick a facilitator, Darr said. Council members didn't support the option, Darr added.
Council has suggested that the parties seek the help of a third-party facilitator to conduct meetings with both elected bodies with a goal of reaching a consensus on how to move forward on the issues, Darr said.
"We're just trying to get it summed up so that everybody has clear guidance on what our next goal should be," Darr said.
Members of the Town Council and the county Board of Supervisors brought up the issue at a liaison meeting Thursday.
Town Manager Steven Burke said Friday that Front Royal plans to draft a formal letter to Warren County officials expressing an interest in meeting with a facilitator to evaluate options and resolutions for the corridor. The intent is to allow both sides to meet with the facilitator and each party has a chance to speak about the issues.
The Commission on Local Government has advised town and county officials that the agency's staff members have served as facilitators, Burke explained.
Issues over the corridor remain unresolved since the creation of the agreement between the town and county years ago, Darr said.
Town and county representatives at the liaison committee meeting also discussed the status of the release of the former Avtex site from the Environmental Protection Agency. The Economic Development Authority will craft a resolution for town and county leaders to adopt that would ask congressional representatives to do what they can to expedite the process by which the EPA is using to hand over the former Avtex property to the authority.
Burke explained that the EPA had indicated that it anticipated the release of the property sometime at the end of 2013. The authority, the town and county had plans to hold a celebration of the milestone in October.
However, Burke noted that the EPA has advised such release may likely not happen until sometime in 2014. Town and county leaders now want to ask U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte and Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner to pursue any and all avenues to speed up the process.
"It's our understanding that just the sheer volume of data that the EPA has to review, coupled with the impact from sequestration, is extending the review time," Burke said.
Once the EPA releases the property, the town and county plan to work with the authority to develop the site.
Also at the meeting, officials discussed:
- The Catlett Mountain landfill project. The Department of Environment Quality advised the town and county of discolored water flowing from the top of the closed landfill that could travel to nearby streams. A design firm is creating a way to divert the water to the sewer system. The parties are hoping the department can approve the design of the diversion system so construction can begin sometime next year, Burke said.
- The creation of a new agreement pertaining to the town's treatment of septage from the county. The current agreement will need an update to reflect upgrades to the sewage treatment facility. Burke said they expect to see a draft of the updated agreement at the next liaison meeting.
- Negotiations with the recommended designer, Pennoni, on the Leach Run Parkway with the intent of awarding a contract to the firm soon
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org