Front Royal to accept regional jail’s rainwater

By Alex Bridges

Front Royal can add rainwater from the regional jail to what the town treats at its sewer plant.

Town Council on Monday approved on first reading a change to the code that allows the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail to send rainwater used in its laundry facilities to the Front Royal wastewater treatment plant. Council voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance to amend town code. Vice Mayor N. Parker voted against the motion. Councilman Bret Hrbek abstained.

No one spoke during the public hearing on the matter.

An agreement reached between Front Royal and the regional jail required the town to accept the facility’s rainwater collected in a cistern and used for laundry and cooling purposes. The agreement also required that council approve a change in the town code related to prohibited releases to the sewer system.

Hrbek reiterated his concerns about the issue and the narrow scope of the code change.

“I believe it [was] kind of a gun to head to get this ordinance put together,” Hrbek said. “It felt a bit rushed – a lot faster than some other things we’ve done in the past but because we agreed to it in the contract, and the fear that we would be in breach of contract, under the advice of counsel that we needed to get it done fairly quickly.”

Hrbek suggested the town explore ways that other property owners could participate in rainwater treatment if feasible for Front Royal.

After months of debate and discussion, council agreed to revisit the issue of letting the jail send used rainwater to the sewer system. The decision came after council learned that the plans for an on-site wastewater treatment at the jail called for the facility to release the effluent into nearby McKay Spring.

Also at the meeting, council:

  • Adopted a resolution to recognize the history of Town Hall and authorize the opening of the building’s cornerstone scheduled for Aug. 17, in celebration of Front Royal’s 225th Anniversary. The resolution notes that the cornerstone was placed on the site on Aug. 17, 1935, and holds a copper box containing documents. Town Hall opened in July 1936. The resolution also states that any documents found in the cornerstone will be given to the Warren Heritage Society for preservation. While no such cornerstone exists at the new town administration building, the former BB&T bank office on East Main Street, Town Manager Steven Burke said staff is exploring the idea of burying a time capsule in front of the building. The town buried a time capsule at the gazebo in 1988 as part of Front Royal’s 200th anniversary celebration.
  • Approved a spending request of $211,750 to rehabilitate manholes around town.
  • Approved a request by the Police Department to spend $15,470 to buy a 2014 Ford Focus SE, to replace a 2000 Ford Explorer.
  • Discussed the construction of a barn on property zoned for agricultural use near Va. 55 and U.S. 522 North. Burke explained that the town holds conservation easement on the property. The owner has indicated that the restrictions of the conservation easement allow him to build a barn on the property. Burke said the town would continue to monitor the construction and to make sure the owner is complying with the easement restrictions. In response to a question from Hrbek, Burke said the easement allows the owner to also build a dwelling on the property. Director of Planning and Zoning Jeremy Camp told council the property has an agricultural exemption to certain regulations. Councilman Eugene Tewalt asked staff about the barn construction and recommended council take a closer look at any future easements it may approve. “It kind of puzzles me that I’m not sure we were told the facts when this thing was approved and I’m not sure we want to consider doing this much anymore because each time we try to do something in regards to it comes back to haunt us,” Tewalt said.

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