Neighborhood contests sanitary district creation

FRONT ROYAL – Residents of a Warren County neighborhood say they want to dissolve the subdivision’s sanitary district status.

A circuit court judge ordered the creation of the Lake Front Royal Sanitary District on Jan. 21 after receiving a petition of at least 50 registered voters living in the neighborhood. But apparently not everyone in the subdivision off U.S. 522 south of Front Royal wanted the neighborhood to join the growing list of sanitary districts.

The Board of Supervisors plans to hold a work session after its regular meeting tonight to discuss the new request. While supervisors do not create sanitary districts, the board would have to sign off on any request to dissolve the district, County Administrator Doug Stanley explained Monday. The county and the property owners association have not yet created a management plan for the district.

The group of residents who petitioned the court to create the sanitary district did so without the knowledge or permission of the Lake Front Royal Property Owners Association’s Board of Directors or the community at large, President Azlee Bates states in a message on the group’s website dated March 11.

“I understand that there will be a LOT of ill will and everyone will want more information as to exactly how this change impacts them,” Bates states.

The president said she would meet with county officials and the Board of Directors would consult the association’s attorney. The Board of Directors asked for a copy of the petition signed by the people who decided to take this route without approval.

“I believe the intention was to deceive the community as a whole to promote the agenda of a few,” Bates states.

Nick Manthos, a property owner in Lake Front Royal, made a formal request by email May 10 to Stanley asking that the Board of Supervisors put the potential dissolution of the sanitary district on its agenda. Manthos notes that this would give the board its first opportunity to hear such a proposal. The board then could hold a hearing on the request at a future meeting, Manthos notes.

Supporters of the Lake Front Royal Sanitary District filed a petition with the court on Dec. 18. The court held hearings on motions on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve before granting the request in the petition, according to an online database.

The petition cites the code section that allows for the creation of sanitary districts. The petition notes that the signers are residents of Lake Front Royal and qualified voters in the county. The petition was signed by almost 60 individuals living in 37 residences.

The Lake Front Royal Property Owners Association then held a special meeting April 30 at the Chester Gap Fire Hall to hear from residents, either for or against, the sanitary district – more than three months after the court ordered its creation.

“Most of you were left out of the decision made by a few and so this is your chance to be heard,” a notice states on the association’s website. “It is extremely important that as many members attend as possible. This meeting will decide how the (Board of Directors) moves forward with this issue.”

Petitioners asked the court to establish the sanitary district to provide for the construction, maintenance, improvement and operation of the existing and platted streets and other common areas within the subdivision.

“That your petitioners are of the opinion and would say unto the Court that the creation of a sanitary district in the Lake Front Royal subdivision would establish the best mechanism for collecting fees and resolving the poor condition of the subdivision’s common areas resulting from maintenance fee collection issues causing the (Lake Front Royal Property Owners Association) to be underfunded,” the petition states.

The Virginia Department of Transportation won’t maintain the subdivision’s streets and bridge.

Creation of the district allows the county to collect maintenance fees from each lot owner and to handle non-compliance issues as well as to significantly increase collection of such fees.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or