Board gives land for new school

Warren County took the next step toward building its second middle school this week.

The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to convey 32 acres of land near the intersection of Happy Creek Road and the future Leach Run Parkway to the School Board. In exchange, the School Board will convey to the county a 107-acre property, known as the environmental study area, off John Marshall Highway.

The latest real estate assessment shows the 32 acres are valued at $1.54 million and the 107 acres at $2.37 million. The School Board must declare the 107 acres as surplus. No one spoke at the public hearing.

County Administrator Doug Stanley explained that both sites were evaluated as potential locations for the school. Engineers recommended the smaller site because of accessibility issues with the larger parcel.

The county purchased 27 acres of the 32-acre site from the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, helping that agency clear up properties it needed for the Leach Run Parkway project. Swapping the 32 acres for the 107-acre site helps the School Board divest itself of land it held for about 40 years.

“I think we found a better site for them,” Stanley said.

The School Board is contractually obligated to Front Royal to use 50 acres of the 107-acre site for a park or recreational services, Stanley said. The requirement would remain with the property under the county’s ownership, he said.

“To be honest, based on the slope of that property, there’s not much else you could do with some of that property up there,” Stanley said.

Superintendent Pam McInnis explained that the federal government gave the 107 acres to the school system with the caveat that the county use the property for educational purposes for a certain number of years. That requirement has since expired, McInnis said.

Also at the meeting, the board:

• Approved John Kovac’s request for a conditional-use permit for recreational use. Kovac plans to build a shed on a vacant, riverfront lot in a special flood hazard area. The 0.32-acre property lies off Beech Road in the Shenandoah Shores subdivision. Kovac has told county officials he wants to use the site for gardening, boating, fishing and picnicking with family and friends. Kovac told staff he has no plans to use the lot for overnight camping or for parking recreational vehicles. Shenandoah Shores resident Eugene Black spoke during the public hearing on the request and said the property owners association worried about camping on the property. One of the conditions of the permit requires Kovac to obtain written permission from the association before he allows camping on the property. The shed also must be anchored and have flood vents installed.

• Approved an additional appropriation of $193,245 to the School Board from a grant, reimbursements and other outside sources.

• Approved the proposed list of capital improvement projects for the Front Royal-Warren County Airport and directed staff to advise the Federal Aviation Administration of the board’s action via letter. Federal and state grant funding will cover 98 percent of the costs of the projects. The county covers the remaining 2 percent, or $42,856 of the costs. The county’s share will be included in each year’s budget. The fiscal 2015-2021 Capital Improvement Plan includes projects in various years ranging from removal of obstructions, an update of the airport master plan, reimbursements for land acquisition, and the design and construction of the apron expansion.

• Accepted Front Royal’s offer of $75,900 for the Department of Parks and Recreation maintenance facility site at the closed Catlett Mountain Landfill. The board had agreed previously to deduct the value of the facility property, approximately two acres, from the town’s share of the cost for the Catlett Mountain stormwater conveyance system. The most recent reassessment values the property at $75,900.

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