County turns down ‘watch for children’ sign request

FRONT ROYAL – The Warren County Board of Supervisors dismissed a resident’s proposal for a “watch for children” sign to be placed in neighborhoods on Tuesday.

The board held a discussion about the signs at a work session following its regular meeting. Board members unanimously agreed to not pursue any sign implementation.

County Administrator Doug Stanley said this was brought to the county’s attention by a resident living off of Virginia Route 629 (Acorn Hill Road) near the Shenandoah River.

“There are a handful of houses located off of it, and (Board of Supervisors Vice Chairwoman Linda) Glavis received a request … for ‘watch for children playing’ signs,” Stanley said.

Stanley noted that the Virginia Department of Transportation halted the installation of such signs back in 2012. The Code of Virginia states that individual towns or counties are responsible for the installation of such signs.

In order for the county to go forward with any kind of “watch for children” sign implementation, Stanley indicated that they would have to go through a lengthy legislative process.

Pointing to other Virginia localities, Stanley noted that Hanover County used to require that the resident making the sign request had to pay the fee for the sign, which can cost around $500.

County Deputy Administrator Robert “Bob” Childress expressed opposition for the implementation of signs or a signage program, based on his previous experience in VDOT.

“In my 20-some years with the state, I probably took as many calls about wanting ‘watch for children’ or ‘children playing’ signs … than any other sign out there,” Childress said.

Childress said that he believes “watch for children” signs are “like any other sign” and that people largely ignore them or that they lead others into “a false sense of security.”

“What happens in a week or two, once motorists become accustomed to the signs? They’re lulled into a false sense of security that that sign’s going to take care of everything,” Childress said.

Glavis said, “Don’t we have to do it countywide, though, if we do it?”

Childress also questioned where the county would “draw the line” when it came to which communities would receive signs if the county were to pursue a program.

“I hate to phrase it this way, but no one child’s life is more important than the other,” he said.

Also at the meeting, Jennifer McDonald, executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, noted that three groups have expressed interest in purchasing the Afton Inn. Although McDonald did not reveal who the authority is in discussions with, she mentioned that they are hoping to have a deal complete by the Thanksgiving holiday.

McDonald also reported Tuesday that they have received the final design plans for a connector road at the Royal Phoenix/AVTEX industrial site. The planned 0.75-mile road would connect the industrial site off of Kendrick Lane with Main Street in Front Royal.

“We need to get (the project) started … I would hope within the next few months,” McDonald said. “We need an entrance to that site.”

Recently, Front Royal-based CBM Mortgage purchased a 3-acre plot of land in the Royal Phoenix site for $201,000 in order to develop a new office space.

McDonald said Town Manager Steve Burke will apply for industrial access funding through the Virginia Department of Transportation within the next couple of weeks to fund the project – which carries a total estimated $1.3-1.5 million.

Once the town hears back from VDOT, McDonald said, “That road should maybe take nine months to 1 year to complete.”

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com