Council postpones action on developer’s request

FRONT ROYAL – Town Council has put off a developer’s request for an exception to local road design standards until a future meeting.

Council voted 5-1 on Monday to postpone action on an application filed by the Front Royal Limited Partnership for a special exception to the code section pertaining to minimum street widths in residential projects. The applicant requested a reduction of four feet from the minimum pavement width, base course width and sub-base for local and collector roads for its 149-acre property near Happy Creek Road. The exception would not apply to the proposed east-west connector road.

Mayor Timothy Darr did not attend the meeting. Councilwoman Bébhinn Egger voiced support for the request and narrower streets in general. However, Egger, sensing a potential tie vote would kill the effort to approve the exception, made a motion to postpone the matter until the next meeting when Darr is present and could break the tie.

Vice Mayor Hollis Tharpe and Councilmen Bret Hrbek, Eugene Tewalt and Jacob Meza voted with Egger in support of her motion. Councilman John Connolly voted against the motion to postpone the request.

Connolly told members that he spoke to a Warren County resident who wanted to remind town officials that people live near the property and will be affected by development. Connolly pointed out that while he supported the request council would be taking action without a proposed design for the road system in the development. Hrbek commented that he would not want to delay the developer’s efforts noting that Front Royal Limited Partnership has been working on this project for years.

Tewalt said he couldn’t support the request because the town recently approved subdivision design standards and added that he learned fire and school officials had not been informed about the proposed exception. Meza said he agreed with Tewalt.

Town Attorney Doug Napier told council that a tie vote would kill any motion to approve the developer’s request for one year. Napier’s comment prompted Egger to make her motion to delay the request until the next meeting when Darr could vote.

Also at the meeting, council:

• Approved a motion to hold a public hearing on a proposed offer to buy the former police department headquarters at 24 W. Main St. Hrbek reminded council that he had recused himself from the discussion of the potential sale of the property because of a conflict of interest. However, Hrbek said he would participate in the vote to advertise the public hearing because the property would be open to any bidders.

• Approved on first reading a request for a special-use permit filed by Gary Bunch to build a single-family, detached home on a non-conforming lot on Jefferson Avenue. Town code requires a permit for new construction when the lot is 80 percent of the minimum width and area. The minimum lot size in the residential district is 10,000 square feet and width is 75 feet. The applicant’s lot is 7,500 square feet and 50 feet wide. No one spoke during the public hearing held on the request.

• Approved a 3-year renewal of the HOME Consortium Agreement beginning Oct. 1. The agreement allows the region to receive direct allocations from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to aid housing assistance activities.

• Approved a non-binding, letter of intent to American Municipal Power to develop a cost estimate and high-level project plan for further evaluation of the advanced metering infrastructure program.

• Approved a request to Virginia Regional Transit to provide trolley service to the Appalachian Trailhead on U.S. 522 South twice a day in 2017, from May 15-July 15, at the same fare as current riders.

• Approved a revised solar lease agreement with American Municipal Power.

• Approved a Division of Motor Vehicles Highway Safety Grant for $15,375 with matching funds of $7,688 for selective enforcement assignments overtime, cost to replace three radar units and breath test units, and to have an officer attend the annual Mid-Atlantic DUI conference.

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