Council backs developer’s exception

FRONT ROYAL – A developer is allowed to build narrower streets than required by the town in a large-scale project.

Town Council voted 5-1 on Monday to approve on first reading a request by the Front Royal Limited Partnership and David Vazzana for a special exception to local regulations that would allow the developer to build narrower streets on a 149-acre site near Happy Creek Road. Specifically, the exception allows a reduction of 4 feet from the minimum pavement width, base course and sub base for local and collector roads.

Councilman John Connolly said he hopes approval of the request would lead to the town receiving a comprehensive plan for the development. Councilman Jacob Meza said he knows members are split on street widths but he doesn’t want to keep the project from moving forward. Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger said she supports narrower streets because they are safer and more pedestrian-friendly.

Councilman Eugene Tewalt voted against approving the request.

Council must vote to approve the request on a second reading for the exception to take effect. Council delayed action on the request earlier this month to allow all members to be present for the vote.

While Front Royal Limited Partnership owns an adjacent, 604-acre site slated for development, the exception applies only to the 149-acre site zoned for residential use.

The motion as approved notes the special exception does not alter the regulation that requires a minimum street width to increase in order to meet the Virginia Department of Transportation road design manual guidelines where additional width is necessary, such as school bus access streets. The planned east-west connector road through the property also will be excluded from the exception.

Also at the meeting, council:
• Heard a report from Jennifer McDonald, executive director of the Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority, who said she received a letter Friday from the Environmental Protection Agency releasing the lot slated for development by IT Federal. The EDA has waited for the letter for 14 months, McDonald said. IT Federal needs to submit a revised site plan to the town. The company now needs to decide on when it intends to begin construction, McDonald said.
• Heard from Fred Frenzel, of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, who spoke about recent bear sightings and encounters in town and Warren County. Frenzel warned that the town will always have a bear problem and most incidents occur as the animals search for food.

• Adopted on its second and final reading a request by Gary Bunch for a special-use permit to build a home on a nonconforming lot on Jefferson Avenue. Town code requires a permit to build on such a lot in a residential district when the lot size equals 80 percent of the minimum width and area. The applicant’s lot is 7,500 square feet and 50 feet wide. The minimum lot size in the residential district is 10,000 square feet and 75 feet wide.

• Approved the renewal of the town’s Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that licenses 96 workstations with Windows 7 or 10; 120 users for Office 365 G3 Cloud; five users for Visio Pro; three licenses for Windows Server Datacenter Edition at a cost of $32,520 per year with a 3-year commitment. The purchase is through a state contract and did not need to be sent out for bids. They are the only authorized Microsoft large account reseller on the Virginia Information Technology website.

• Approved a request from Theresa Francis, special events manager of Christendom College, for a donation of a town flag to the institution. The flag costs $191.

• Approved a request from the Warren Heritage Society for an in-kind donation to offset utility expenses incurred by the organization equal to $15,000 for services at 101 Chester St., for fiscal 2017. Council has approved similar requests the last two years. Council further asks that the organization try to improve the efficiency of their buildings and report these efforts before asking for donations in the future.
Approved a resolution of support to change the state law by allowing 5 percent of lottery sales returned to localities. Greg Evans, mayor of Crewe, made the request on behalf of the Nottoway County communities.

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