Board OK’s truck ban on Reliance Road

FRONT ROYAL – The state could soon bar many truck drivers from using a popular shortcut through Warren and Frederick counties.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted at its meeting Tuesday to ask the Commonwealth Transportation Board to impose a ban on through tractor-trailers on Va. 627 (Reliance Road). The board voted 4-0. Happy Creek District Supervisor Tony Carter did not attend the meeting.

County Administrator Doug Stanley said the main issue concerns the narrowness of the two-lane road makes it difficult for two vehicles traveling in opposite directions to pass each other. North River District Daniel J. Murray Jr. echoed Stanley’s assessment.

Frederick County’s supervisors plan to hold a public hearing at their meeting tonight pertaining to the section of the road that stretches through the jurisdiction.

Murray sought the prohibition on trucks last year, citing the safety hazard posed by the vehicles on the winding stretch of road.

In 2006, Warren County reviewed a potential restriction on all truck traffic on Reliance Road. A locality seeking to restrict truck traffic must identify an alternate route. However, Interstate 66 doesn’t qualify as an alternate because trucks cannot use their 5-percent over-weight permits on the interstate system like they can on Reliance Road. The other alternatives – Va. 55 through Strasburg or Fairfax Pike through Stephens City – would send a considerable amount of traffic through the towns.

Warren County supervisors endorsed the idea of a ban on tractor-trailers at their Nov. 15 meeting. County Administrator Doug Stanley, Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress and Murray spoke with Frederick County’s Transportation Committee whose members later endorsed the prohibition.

Earlier in the meeting, during the public comment period, a handful of residents who live in the Reliance Road area spoke to the board about an ongoing problem involving a couple of drivers who drive their cars unsafely through the neighborhood. The drivers, who speakers said they know and have confronted, travel at high speeds and create noise.

Murray said that he saw three drivers traveling abreast on Reliance Road and called the situation an accident waiting to happen.

Also at the meeting, the board:
• Approved an ordinance to amend a section of the county code that makes Warren County Fire Company 6 “an integral part of the official safety program of the County for purposes of the Line of Duty Act.” No one spoke at the public hearing on the matter.
• Approved a conditional-use permit requested by Ronald E. King and Linda Baker to operate a guesthouse at 708 River Ridge Road, Middletown. No one spoke at the public hearing on the matter. The county zoning ordinance defines a guesthouse as a dwelling or lodging unit for temporary, non-paying guests and no such quarters shall be rented, leased or otherwise made available for compensation.
• Approved a conditional-use permit requested by Frank O’Reilly to operate short-term tourist rentals at 540 Benny’s Beach Road in the Hoskins subdivision. O’Reilly owns a construction company and recently built the house, county Planner Matt Wendling told the board. While the property does not lie in a subdivision, a road maintenance committee oversees the street, Wendling said. O’Reilly also owns other properties that he runs as short-term rentals. O’Reilly made comments and presented information and justification for his request. Sean O’Reilly, the owner’s son, spoke at the public hearing in support of the request. Several homeowners on Benny’s Beach Road voiced concerns about the safety of the dirt road and traffic they could expect the rental to attract. A condition with the permit requires the rental agreements to stipulate that Benny’s Beach Road is a private drive with speed limits.
• Approved a conditional-use permit requested by O’Reilly to run a short-term rental at 170 Berbusse Lane, Front Royal in the Morrison Estates neighborhood. The board voted 2-1 to approve the permit. Murray voted against the motion, citing the number of neighbors who voiced concerns. Sayre abstained. A 2-2 vote would have killed the motion to approve the permit. Sayre unsuccessfully tried to include a condition that the property follow the county’s noise ordinance. The property lies adjacent to Christendom College and the applicant plans to market the house to families visiting children attending the school, Wendling said. Four neighbors, some of whom are friends with the O’Reillys, spoke against the request during the public hearing, stating they did not want a hotel in the neighborhood.
• Approved a conditional-use permit requested by Bradley and Sonya Hanes to operate a guesthouse at 481 Greatland Farm Drive. No one spoke at the public hearing held on the request.
• Approved a request from 707 Properties LLC to rezone 10 acres on U.S. 340-522 from agricultural to industrial use. The owners sought to rezone land at 6986 Winchester Road to increase the property’s marketability. No one spoke during the public hearing on the request.

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