Few town buildings pose nuisance risk

FRONT ROYAL – More than a dozen buildings in town, including one owned by a Warren County supervisor, could turn into public nuisances.

Planning and Zoning Department Director Jeremy Camp will present the latest list of at-risk structures to Town Council on Monday. Town employees created a list of structures considered “at-risk” of posing a public nuisance. The list helps the town bring the problems to the owners’ attention.

The list of 15 structures includes several new properties, including the former home of the Veterans of Foreign Wars at 1847 N. Royal Ave., destroyed by fire last year. The Warren County building official recently approved a demolition permit for the structure. The town referred five of the structures on the new list to the building official on April 27 for inspection and evaluation.

“There’s very little we can do without getting a determination from either the health department or the building official,” Camp said Friday.

The town assesses structures deemed vacant and blighted, checks the buildings for safety and to make sure they remain secure and don’t allow animals to go inside, Camp explained. The town then works with the county to assess the property and determine if the structure poses a public nuisance. When bricks started to fall from the roof of the Afton Inn on North Main Street, the town went through the process of assessing the structure.

“We have limited laws to allow us to require them to improve the structures but, if there’s a public risk, we do have an ordinance where we can enforce it as a public nuisance,” Camp added.

Several structures on last year’s list came off as owners demolished or renovated the properties, Camp said. Staff members work with property owners to renovate or repair the properties before they become public nuisances, Camp added

A structure at 1858 N. Royal Ave. has been deemed vacant, blighted, partially secure and at risk of turning into a public nuisance. County real estate records show Fork District Supervisor Archie Fox’s company, A. Fox LLC, owns the property.

The former Afton Inn, 2 E. Main St., remains vacant. The Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority continues to market the property in an effort to find a developer. The structure is listed as vacant and blighted but secure and not a possible public nuisance.

The town department identified all 15 properties on the list as vacant and blighted. Many of the properties were found to have high grass exceeding the town ordinance. The town continues to monitor several other structures.

Properties on the list identified as possible public nuisances:
• 1 Depot Ave., designated as not secure, with a broken door; high grass, trash and debris on the property as well as a collapsed garage and door.
• 339, 341 Osage St., featured a collapsed roof and holes as well as fire damage.
• 1847 N. Royal Ave., designated as partially secure, with debris and fire damage.
• 1858 N. Royal Ave., designated as partially secure, with debris and fire damage.
• 734 Parkview Drive, designated as secure with a partially constructed porch and high grass.

Warren County property records still show Don Simonpietri et al as the owners of 514 and 528 S. Royal Ave. Simonpietri ran a pawnshop at the property until he was convicted in 2011 of firearms offenses.

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