Board to discuss disputed sanitary district

FRONT ROYAL – Warren County leaders plan to revisit the existence of a sanitary district that left a neighborhood divided.

The Board of Supervisors intends to discuss the Lake Front Royal Sanitary District at a work session Tuesday after its regular meeting. County Attorney Dan Whitten said the board plans to talk about the appointment of an advisory committee that would consider a budget and a tax rate for the sanitary district. The county will hold a public hearing on the district’s proposed budget and tax rate later this year.

But the Lake Front Royal Property Owners Association’s Board of Directors doesn’t plan to sign a contract with the county to administer the sanitary district as others have. Board of Directors President Azlee Bates explained in an email Friday that the directors plan to hand over all maintenance covered by the sanitary district statute to the county effective Jan. 1.

Additionally, the directors do not plan to offer a budget or tax rate. The county would need to come up with a budget and tax rate and must advertise for another sanitary district manager, assign a percent of Deputy County Administrator Bob Childress’ time to Lake Front Royal, and equipment sharing. The county also would need to advertise for snow removal, road and grounds maintenance and other needs. Bates said the Board of Directors did offer to act as the advisory committee, though that has not been confirmed.

“Basically, the LFRPOA BOD ethically and morally can’t contract with the county to administer the sanitary district for them, against the will of the majority of owners, and after the BOS refused to stand with the majority and suggested the majority of owners are ignorant/stupid/misinformed,” Bates stated.

Supervisors voted 3-2 last month against a request by Lake Front Royal property owners to join a petition asking a Warren County Circuit Court judge to abolish the sanitary district. The vote came after a survey of property owners showed more support for abolishing the district. Supervisors Tony Carter, Dan Murray Jr. and Thomas Sayre voted against the request to join the petition. Chairwoman Linda Glavis and Vice Chairman Archie Fox voted in support of the petition.

Bates announced in the neighborhood’s October newsletter that the organization’s leaders do not intend to contract with the county.

“We each believe that doing so violates our personal code of ethics, deeply rooted in our various belief systems, and would be another slap in the face to the majority we promised to support,” Bates stated in the newsletter. “Contracting with the county amounts to agreeing with the Board of Supervisors’ decision, and agreeing to administer the sanitary district the majority is against, for free and assuming all liability.”

The Board of Directors agreed to maintain the community until Jan. 1 and, at that time, terminate all contracts dealing with maintenance of the sanitary district, the letter notes. The county then would assume all maintenance required by the sanitary district statute.

Bates added that the Board of Directors intends to continue as a corporation that the county cannot dissolve or otherwise interfere with.

Bates recounts the actions leading up to and after the supervisors’ vote in the organization’s newsletter, adding that the matter divided the community.

“Much of the division was created by the blindsiding of the community when the sanitary district was created, aided by County Administrator Doug Stanley, without the knowledge or consent of the community or the LFRPOA BOD, expressly against the wishes of the majority,” Bates stated.

The president targeted Carter, claiming that the Happy Creek District supervisor would try to block funding for improvements of the subdivision’s bridge and only way in and out. Bates noted that the subdivision does not need to be a sanitary district in order to receive funds for its rural access project. Bates added that sanitary districts do not receive a discount; the only difference is that sanitary districts pay their share of construction costs after completion, whereas other subdivisions pay ahead of time.

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