Strasburg approves sale of the Brown house

STRASBURG — The Town Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve the sale of the Brown house, at 218 East King Street, to FPI, LLC.

In exchange for the house, the town will receive $60,000 and the back half of the two lots next to the Brown house, both of which Strasburg resident Joseph Filerman owns through FPI, LLC.

In addition, the town will not be paying any brokerage fees, something Town Manager Wyatt Pearson had said during the Town Council’s work session on Sept. 6 that the town might have to do.

Pearson said after the council meeting that he had asked if the town could avoid paying any fees because it did not use a real estate agent during the sale.

“He agreed to cover that cost (i.e. the real estate fees) and then Sager Real Estate agreed to reduce [the fee] from 5 percent to 4 percent,” Pearson said.

The sale means that the town will now be able to create a larger park behind the Brown house than it had initially planned. During the Sept. 6 work session, Pearson had said that the town would be working to change plans for the park so that the land acquired in the sale would be put to use.

The Brown house has been a spot of contention since the town purchased the building for $100,000 in 2015. Soon after the town moved to purchase the building, the Town Council voted to demolish it.

But the Virginia Department of Historic Resources decided that a grant the town has to develop the park prevented the town from demolishing the building.

That decision left the building unused until its sale.

The Town Council also voted during Tuesday’s meeting to allow Virginia Air Networks, a Virginia-based internet provider that started up in June, to build a 65-foot telecommunications station at 458 Radio Station Road in Strasburg.

As part of Tuesday’s vote, the company will have to be willing to offer leasing on the tower to competitors, as a condition of the sale. Pearson said that this provision will be difficult for the town to enforce.

“There’s just a little bit of concern, when you require somebody to require leaseable space, that they may not treat their competitors in a fair nature, on their tower,” Pearson said.

But Pearson said that with the Town Council’s vote, he will work with the town’s attorney, Nathan Miller, to write a final contract.

Pearson has said in previous meetings that town staff wanted this condition so that companies in the future don’t come to Strasburg asking to have the town grant a permit for another tower.

It is unclear whether those provisions would have been necessary in order to get the support of the Town Council. During Tuesday’s meeting, council member Kim Bishop indicated that she would support the contract without the leasing requirement.

“I would just like to say that whether or not [Virginia Air Networks] agree to allow the extra things to go on there, I think [approving the tower] is a good thing for Strasburg,” Bishop said.