Council helps town homeowner

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL — With no fanfare Monday night, Town Council took action to fix a problem that has plagued a homeowner for years.

Council voted 6-0 to adopt a resolution for independent water service at 409 Virginia Ave., owned currently by Rebecca Sinclair. The resolution approves a special exception to the town code section and allows a single service connection to Front Royal’s water main that would serve two independent meters at 409 and 411 Virginia Ave.

Town Manager Steven Burke explained Tuesday that while the duplex has been served by one meter, a sub-meter on the property measures water use for the other unit. The resolution states the town will install the independent water meters and the owners of the two units will connect to each new meter. The additional meter should cost about $200, Burke said. The town also will need to replace the section of sidewalk crews have to excavate.

“But it’s a significantly lesser cost than if we were to tear out the street and run an independent water connection back to the main,” Burke said.

The Virginia Avenue homes will remain out of noncompliance with town code and may need to come into compliance should Front Royal put a program into effect to bring properties in similar situations into compliance with the local regulations.

The duplex built at 409 Virginia Ave. in 1937 has a single water meter. The property does not conform to town code section adopted in 1985 that requires independent water connections for each residence. The previous owner did not install separate meters for each residential unit, according to information from town officials.

Sinclair was not made aware when she bought the home in October 2003 that the property is served by the single meter. In the past year the town has cut off the water to the duplex when the bill for 411 Virginia Ave. was not paid, even though Sinclair pays her bill.

Town Council plans to continue its discussion on how to handle other properties known to not comply with the requirement for water meters or independent, lateral connections to the sewer system.

Also at the meeting, council:

  • Approved a bid for the installation of ultraviolet equipment that will be used in the treatment of the town’s drinking water. The contract with Caldwell Santmyer calls for the firm to install the equipment at a cost of $2.68 million as funded in the fiscal budget. The amount includes $244,000 for unforeseen expenses. Caldwell Santmyer submitted the lowest of three bids reviewed by CHA Consulting Engineers. Council approved the purchase of the equipment from Calgon Carbon at its June 2 meeting. The town needs to improve the treatment of the raw water taken from the Shenandoah River to meet stricter Department of Health guidelines.
  • Approved the Police Department’s request to replace its senior dispatch program with the master communications officer program.
  • Approved a policy on mobile phones and similar devices that establishes guidelines for acceptable use of information systems. The policy covers email by town employees, elected officials, volunteers, interns and other affiliates authorized to use the devices. Town Attorney Doug Napier explained Tuesday that the policies apply to devices supplied by the town to employees and officials. In the case of communications on social media by employees, even from a worker’s personal cellphone, computer or smartphone, the policies could apply if it impairs discipline or harmony among co-workers or interferes with the employee’s job performance. An employee may not unreasonably interfere with or disrupt the employer’s legitimate job functions by means of the employee’s communications, the attorney stated in an email.
  • Approved changes on a second reading to the 2009 franchise ordinance to allow Rappahannock Electric Cooperative to build and install new power transmission equipment through town. The service provider plans to build a 34.5-kilovolt distribution line from Kendrick Lane west to Criser Road and Mount View Street.

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