Sanitary district vote leaves neighborhood divided

FRONT ROYAL – Lake Front Royal property owners remained at odds this week over Warren County leaders’ decision Tuesday to let the subdivision sanitary district remain.

The Board of Supervisors sided with a group of property owners and residents who sought to keep the sanitary district created for the neighborhood. A few property owners made last-minute comments before the board voted 3-2 against a motion to join the petition to abolish the district.

Outside the government center after the meeting, property owners on both sides of the matter commented about the sanitary district. Supporters of the move to abolish the district continued to claim they never received notifications about its creation in the circuit court. Property owner Bruce Hunter said the district proposal was advertised in a local, weekly newspaper on holiday weekends in December. Hunter voiced outrage about the vote to Vice Chairman Archie Fox, who supported the effort to abolish the district along with Chairwoman Linda Glavis. Hunter asked how people not living in their magisterial district make decisions that affect property owners and residents in Lake Front Royal. The subdivision lies in the South River District that Glavis represents. Supervisors Tony Carter, Daniel Murray Jr. and Thomas Sayre, who voted against supporting the effort to abolish the district, represent other areas.

Daniela McAllister, a Lake Front Royal resident and property owner, helped pushed for the creation of the sanitary district. McAllister said after the meeting that her property is still up for sale.

“I’m a property owner so I’m invested in this being a sanitary district for as long as I own the property and it’s for the benefit of whomever owns the property after me as well,” McAllister said. “You plant a tree so that it grows.”

Asked about the possibility of increased taxes on real estate in a sanitary district, McAllister pointed out that the property owners association decides the rates. The association also creates a plan of action that directs the spending of the fees collected from property owners on projects.

The county recently surveyed property owners and a majority of those who responded said they did not favor the sanitary district and supported the effort to abolish it. Some property owners said the county should have surveyed the community before the petitioners filed their request with the court. State law does not require the county to survey communities seeking to create a sanitary district.

Azlee Bates, Lake Front Royal Property Owners Association Board president, said after the meeting that a survey would have prevented the situation. Bates concurred with Hunter that many property owners were not made aware of the actions undertaken by the residents and property owners seeking to create the district.

State law allows a group of at least 50 qualified voters living in a subdivision – property owners, renters and/or residents in a household – to petition the circuit court to create a sanitary district. Such designation gives control of the district’s finances to the county, which oversees collection of fees usually used for road maintenance and improvement projects.

However, state law requires both a petition of qualified voters and the expressed support of the Board of Supervisors, when a group asks the court to abolish a sanitary district.

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