Council OKs deal with business center

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL – Town leaders have taken another step toward boosting the local economy.

Town Council voted 5-1 Monday to approve a contract with the Lord Fairfax Small Business Development Center to provide assistance to Front Royal. The center is expected to help the town craft a business development program and to provide training to local proprietors to enhance their operations.

The contract cost for the services will not exceed $20,000.

Councilman Daryl Funk voted against the motion to approve the contract. Funk told council at previous work sessions on the subject that he would support the measure if the town sought input from the Economic Development Authority.

“I think it’s a worthwhile program but I believe that’s the focus of our Economic Development [Authority],” Funk said.

The Economic Committee established by Mayor Timothy Darr recently recommended that council take several steps toward boosting the local business sector. Recommendations included entering into an agreement with the Small Business Development Center, headquartered at Lord Fairfax Community College in Middletown.

Center Director Bill Sirbaugh also made a pitch to council at its work session Aug. 4 during which he explained what the organization can do for the town. As part of the scope of its services, representatives of the center plan to spend a minimum of 32 hours in Front Royal or working on town-related development activities. Sirbaugh told council that the center would also need local office space so its workers could meet with clients in private if necessary. Council members at the time voiced support for Sirbaugh’s requests.

Vice Mayor N. Shae Parker spoke favorably of the agreement before the vote and commented that the mayor’s committee, the EDA, the Chamber of Commerce or other groups could meet with Sirbaugh and the center workers.

Also at the meeting, council:
• Approved a request by Habitat for Humanity for the town to waive the planning and zoning permit fees associated with its proposed housing project on Canon Street. In the motion council also moved to execute an agreement with Habitat for Humanity and the property owner to place a lien on the property for the water connection fee of $4,340 and sewer tap fee of $9,750. The lien is in lieu of payment at the time of construction. Darr recused himself from the discussion and the vote on the request, stating that he and his wife sold the property in question to the organization. While Town Attorney Douglas Napier has said such a connection would not create a conflict, Darr said he wanted to act out of caution.
• Accepted a bid from Lantz Construction Company not to exceed $177,100 to build improvements at the former Catlett Mountain Landfill. Council awarded the contract jointly with Warren County. The town’s contribution toward the project cost will be deducted from the property value of the 2.57-acre parcel transferred to the county for the county’s park maintenance building. Improvements to the landfill are necessary to divert rainwater that enters the landfill from leaking out and into area waterways.

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