Board lets sanitary district stand

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County leaders won’t help dozens of Lake Front Royal property owners abolish its recently created sanitary district.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday against a motion to support or join a petition signed by at least 50 qualified voters living in the Lake Front Royal subdivision seeking to abolish the sanitary district. The board had postponed action on the matter at its July 19 meeting after hearing support for and opposition to the request to abolish the sanitary district.

Chairwoman Linda Glavis and Vice Chairman Archie Fox voted in favor of the motion. Supervisors Tony Carter, Daniel Murray Jr. and Thomas Sayre voted against the motion. Sayre then made a motion that supervisors re-evaluate the matter in two years. Carter seconded the motion. The board voted 5-0 in favor of Sayre’s motion.

The board’s action came even as the majority of property owners surveyed by the county asked supervisors to help them dissolve the sanitary district.

The county conducted a survey of subdivision property owners to gauge the support and opposition to the request to abolish the sanitary district. The county distributed surveys to 301 property owners. Survey results showed that of the 151 responses returned, 88 property owners indicated they support the abolishment of the sanitary district. The remaining 63 property owners indicated they oppose the request to abolish the district.

Interim County Attorney Dan Whitten explained the results of the survey to the supervisors. The survey also looked at support and opposition based on a number of properties owned by responders. Those who want the district dissolved own 115 parcels while supporters of the district own 75 parcels.

Fox made the motion to support the petition to abolish the sanitary district. Glavis stepped down as chairwoman in order to second Fox’s motion. Fox said if the board voted against the request and the wishes of the respondents in the survey it would give the impression that government knows what’s best.

“If they don’t want it, I won’t support it,” Fox said.

Glavis noted that 32 people spoke at a public hearing held in July, and 14 people spoke in favor of keeping the sanitary district. That number represented 11 households. Glavis noted that the county held the survey to allow all property owners to weigh in on the matter.

Glavis said it seemed to her that it appears the will of the people is to abolish the sanitary district. Glavis said more than 60 percent of the property owners who responded to the survey want the district abolished.

Sayre said he also looked at the responses and noticed that most of the property owners lived outside Front Royal and the county.

Carter made a lengthy statement before voting against the motion, essentially agreeing with the arguments made in support of keeping the sanitary district.

Murray said before a second was made he would want to honor the wishes of circuit court Judge Ronald Napier who approved the creation of the sanitary district. Murray suggested that the county allow the district to stay in effect for three years. Murray said there likely was misinformation about sanitary districts.

The board heard from several Lake Front Royal residents during the public comment period at the Tuesday meeting, two of whom said the subdivision needed the help from the county that would come with a sanitary district. However, two other residents told the board they felt the previous speakers’ comments were out of order given that the county already held a public hearing on the matter, during which supervisors heard from supporters and opponents of the sanitary district.

At least 50 qualified voters who live in the neighborhood signed a petition to create the sanitary district. Napier approved the request. Shortly thereafter, other residents sought to undo the sanitary district’s creation. State code requires that those wishing to abolish a district obtain both a petition of 50 qualified voters and the support of the Board of Supervisors, the latter condition not required to create a district.

Supporters of the sanitary district claimed the subdivision needed the county’s help to manage the neighborhood’s finances with a goal of improving roads and the deteriorating bridge at the entrance to Lake Front Royal.

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