Council looks at new deal with county

Front Royal leaders continue to hash out an “economic growth-sharing” deal between the town and Warren County.

Council is expected to meet in closed session “for the following purposes in connection with a potential proposed voluntary economic growth-sharing agreement or agreements with the Board of Supervisors of Warren County.” Council has used a similar motion at previous meetings to talk about the deal in closed session.

Mayor Timothy Darr said Friday he and council are trying to come up with a deal to present to the county that they feel “is fair and equitable to everybody.”

“I can’t really [say] more than that because I want to give the county the benefit of the doubt,” Darr said. “I don’t want to blindside them.”

Council needs to reach a consensus on an agreement before they make it public.

“It’s just one of those things that hopefully we can come up with a mutual agreement that’s amicable to both parties, the town and the county, and we can move on to the issues that are more critical,” Darr said.

Council likely could present an agreement in open session this spring, Councilman Bret Hrbek said. Darr said council has set a spring release as a goal.

Work on the agreement addresses, in part, the ongoing issues associated with the U.S. 340-522 North Corridor, Hrbek said.

“We’re just trying to figure out a way to resolve the issues that the town and county have in general,” Hrbek said. “The crux of the matter tends to be the corridor.”

Board of Supervisors Chairman Richard Traczyk said Friday he also understood that the agreement has to do with the corridor. Traczyk and other board members have not been involved in the discussion about the agreement.

“I just understand it’s another revenue-sharing idea, that the town is looking to try and resolve our 522 Corridor issues,” Traczyk said. “That’s what I’ve heard it is, but I have no details at this point.”

If and when council comes up with an agreement, members will vote on such a deal in a public meeting before the town presents it to the Board of Supervisors, Darr said.

In some cases, council must keep its discussions and negotiations in closed sessions, Town Attorney Douglas Napier said Friday.

“I think everything will be done openly and it will be done in a public forum,” Napier said. “To a certain point, some things, for a little while have to be discussed in closed [session]. But then you get to a point when there’s action to be taken, it’s gotta come out.”

Town leaders contend that Front Royal misses out on revenue generated by certain businesses in the corridor. Council members in the past have suggested the town could change a resolution that would allow Front Royal to collect fees from some businesses.

The town hired Carter Glass IV, a Richmond-based attorney who specializes in government and land-use issues, to look into the original corridor agreement. Napier said that he, along with Assistant Town Attorney George Sonnett Jr. and Planning Department staff, have spoken with Glass about Front Royal’s options. A proposed land-use map of any parts of the county and town that might be affected by a future agreement has been created, Napier said. Planning Department staff shared the map with Glass and his office this past week.

“So I anticipate, within a couple months or so, we will have [Glass’] probably completed,” Napier said.

The map highlights not only the corridor but also the eastern part of Front Royal and Va. 55 East in the Happy Creek area.

“A lot of it is in the future — where should Front Royal grow if it should grow,” Napier said. “We want to do sort of a global look at everything. It may not make sense for Front Royal to grow. Geographically, it may make all the sense in the world. We need to take sort of a strategic look.”

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