Strasburg council forgoes Brown House right of first refusal

STRASBURG — The Strasburg Town Council decided not to act on a right of first refusal on 218 E. King St. and two nearby properties, following a closed session discussion in Tuesday’s Town Council meeting.

In a 5-4 vote, the council voted to waive the right of first refusal on 218 E. King St., otherwise known as the Brown House, and the vacant lot next to it, and to release the right of first refusal on 238 E. King St.

The move means that the building’s owner, Joseph Filerman, can negotiate the sales of all three properties and that future owners can negotiate the sale of 238 E. King St. without discussion from the Strasburg Town Council. But the Town of Strasburg would have an opportunity to bid on the sale of the Brown House or the adjacent lot if a future owner sells it.

Mayor Rich Orndorff said that the council members opposing the plan generally thought that the town “should take ourselves out of the equation” in future sales of all three properties.

“There was at least one that said we shouldn’t be in the real estate business and we should take ourselves out of the equation, so to speak,” Orndorff said.

But Orndorff, who broke the 4-4 vote, said he believed that since there was no cost in maintaining the right of first refusal, it made sense for the town to keep that right. He added that the Brown House is next to the town’s pavilion, while the vacant lot could provide vehicular access to the town’s planned event space.

“I have no interest in purchasing the Brown House again or the vacant lot,” Orndorff said. “However, no one can look in their crystal ball and no one can see what the future holds.”

In the end, Orndorff and council members Scott Terndrup, Taralyn Nicholson, Emily Reynolds and Barbara Plitt voted in favor of the motion. Council members Kim Bishop, John Massoud, Ken Cherrix and Jocelyn Vena voted against it.

All eight council members and Orndorff were present at the meeting.