EDA to add land to McKay Springs

Traffic from U.S. Route 522 travels past an empty lot at McKay Springs at Reliance Road. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County leaders took action Tuesday that officials say could help find a buyer for the historic McKay Springs.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to allow the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority to buy the former site of a trailer-home park on Reliance Road near U.S. 340-522. North River District Supervisor Daniel J. Murray Jr. made the motion to let the authority spend up to $68,000 in county funds to purchase the 2-acre parcel previously owned by the estate of Lillian Eastep. County land records show the property was last assessed at $166,500. Trailer homes were removed from the site recently.

The purchase would create a combined parcel of covering the entire northwest corner of U.S. 340-522 and Reliance Road. The corner also is part of a four-way, controlled intersection created when the county realigned Rockland Road years ago.

The property in question fronts the 5300 block of Reliance Road and lies surrounded by a 9-acre parcel owned jointly by Front Royal and the county. The town and county also own two parcels totaling approximately 4.5 acres that lie adjacent to U.S. 340-522.

EDA Executive Director Jennifer McDonald said Tuesday the purchase of the trailer park site should allow a developer to build on the larger McKay Springs property and to meet Virginia Department of Transportation requirements.

“Currently, the way the McKay Springs property sits it was almost impossible to get a turn lane into that property because of that median that’s there on Reliance Road and VDOT requires so much sight distance for turn lanes,” McDonald said. “So we really didn’t have that with the existing site so now adding the Eastep piece to that will give us the necessary distance that we need so that will definitely help and it also adds 2 acres to, you know, a potential commercial use that is very beneficial.”

The location of the turn lane would depend on the planned use of the property and the amount of traffic expected to access the site, McDonald said.

The EDA began marketing a 9-acre parcel in 2012 – three years after a fire destroyed a historic home on the McKay Springs property. Only a chimney and fireplace from the house remains on the site. But the existence of the trailer-home park hindered the EDA’s efforts to find a buyer or developer for the 9 acres.

County Administrator Doug Stanley said after the board meeting Tuesday that the trailer park limited the ability to develop the 9 acres.

“It made it less attractive to potential clients,” Stanley said.

The bank that held the Eastep property approached the county and inquired about working with the EDA to acquire the 2-acre parcel. The purchase gives control of the entire corner to the town, the county and the EDA, Stanley said.

The trailer park remains zoned for residential use. A developer or the EDA could apply to the county to rezone the property for commercial use.

“Ultimately, it makes the whole site a lot more attractive to commercial development,” Stanley added.

The town intends to keep part of the property that contains the spring as a potential, secondary source of water.

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