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Town, county eye boundary shift

By Alex Bridges

A proposal to shift the Warren County-Front Royal line would bring land considered for major projects into town.

Front Royal and Warren County leaders plan to consider an agreement to adjust the boundary for the two jurisdictions in the area south of Happy Creek Road and east of its intersection with Shenandoah Shores Road. Front Royal would grow by 84 acres in that area once Town Council, the county Board of Supervisors and a judge in the circuit court approve the agreement. Most of that land is owned by Valley Health and Warren Memorial Hospital.

Town Council plans to hold its public hearing at 7 p.m. Jan. 13. The Board of Supervisors scheduled the county's public hearing for 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21. Both hearings will be held at the county government center at 220 N. Commerce St.

Once Front Royal takes in the land, any development on the parcels would qualify for the in-town water and sewer rates.

The land included in the boundary adjustment consists of the former Rutherford Lands property Warren County bought for the future second middle school; parcels bought by the Economic Development Authority from Ramsey Inc. and NVA Properties for Leach Run Parkway still in its design phase; and the former Duncan property purchased by Warren Memorial Hospital for a future medical center site, according to information provided by the town.

A memorandum of understanding reached between the town and county in 2011 called for the jurisdictions to share in the costs of acquiring land for Leach Run Parkway underway by the Economic Development Authority. The memorandum also noted the intent of the jurisdictions to bring the acquired properties into the town by way of a boundary-line adjustment. Information provided by the county point out that the former Ramsey and NVA Properties parcels straddle the town-county line.

The county bought approximately 4.65 acres on the south side of Happy Creek Road earlier this year from Rutherford Homes LLC at a cost of $300,000 for part of the site for the future second middle school. The future school property also straddles the town-county line. County officials have said this property should be annexed into Front Royal so the school can qualify for the in-town water and sewer rates once the facility is built.

County Administrator Douglas Stanley explained Thursday that the amount of land needed for the rights-of-way to construct the Leach Run Parkway remains unknown. The project is still in the design phase.

The intent to move the land for the Leach Run Parkway into the town came in the early discussions of the project, Stanley recalled. The proposed middle school site is split between the town and county.

"This way we'd only have to go under the development restrictions of the town," Stanley said, adding that the school project would need approval through Front Royal and not both jurisdictions.

The county, at the town's request, recently asked Valley Health if it could include approximately 78 acres of a 150-acre property owned by Warren Memorial Hospital in the adjustment. Valley Health purchased the vacant land off Shenandoah Shores Road in 2008.

Warren Memorial Hospital President Patrick Nolan indicates in a Nov. 22 letter to Stanley that Valley Health and the hospital do not object to the town's request.

"My only concern is the impact of the Town's slope ordinance on the portion of our land currently in the County, but as we have no immediate plans to develop the land I will defer this conversation until the time that we have a formal site plan," Nolan states in the letter.

Stanley said construction of a new hospital on the site likely would not happen for years.

The boundary adjustment doesn't have to include the hospital property, Stanley said.

"But they're side by side and the town wanted to go ahead and do that as well," Stanley said.

State law requires that the county and town hold separate public hearings on the proposed agreement. The town and county also plan to split the cost of the proceeding. Localities must then petition the circuit court for the approval of the boundary adjustment by entry of an order that gets recorded in the land records.

A first draft of the agreement provides for the vacation of the existing boundary and sets a new division along the eastern edges of the properties, according to county information. The agreement eventually will include a finished plat with the metes and bounds description of the new boundary line as proposed.

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

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