The Front Royal Warren County Economic Development Authority settled a civil dispute on Friday for $460,000 but with whom remains confidential.
The EDA Board of Directors voted at a special meeting to adopt a resolution in which it states that the board reached a mediated settlement with a party for the amount. The terms of the settlement prohibit the parties from revealing any of its contents.
EDA Board Chairman Jeff Browne said by phone after the meeting that he could neither disclose the name of the party nor could he identify any civil matter addressed in the settlement agreement. Virginia code allows and in fact encourages this information to remain confidential in these types of settlements.
Browne, who has said he wants the EDA to exercise transparency, did comment on the board reaching the deal.
“It goes against my grain to do something like this but it’s definitely, in my view, in the best interest of the people in the county and the town to do this,” Browne said. “So, you know, we will, one time, take advantage of this kind of arrangement.
“It’s a good outcome,” Browne added.
Retired Virginia Supreme Court Justice Jane Marum Roush offered to preside over the mediation, which began Monday, Browne said. Roush also attended the special meeting.
“It’s reasonably extraordinary that you’d get that kind of an offer,” Browne said. “She was very, very professional.”
Browne and directors Greg Harold, Jorie Martin, Dr. Thomas Patteson and Jim Wolfe attended the meeting remotely via an internet conference service. The directors took action after discussing the matter in a closed session that lasted about an hour.
Browne read the motion to adopt the resolution.
“Whereas, the board has assessed, with its legal counsel, certain claims and defenses it may have related to a disputed matter,” Browne read. “Whereas, pursuant Virginia code ... certain disputes between the EDA and confidential party have been mediated.
“Whereas, the mediated dispute has resulted in a proposed, confidential settlement agreement, which the board has considered in a properly called, closed meeting,” Browne went on to read. “Whereas, the EDA desires to enter into a confidential settlement with a confidential party providing for a settlement payment to the EDA in the amount of $460,000.”
The resolution goes on to state that the directors authorize its chairman and its secretary to execute the proposed settlement agreement “which shall remain confidential as a product of a mediated confidential settlement agreement pursuant to state law.”
Martin made the motion to adopt the resolution. Harold, who was out of town while attending the meeting remotely, seconded the motion.
A question arose as to whether or not he could sign the resolution electronically or needed to do so in person. Wolfe said the contract allowed Harold to sign the contract electronically. Cullen T. Seltzer, an attorney with the firm Sands Anderson involved in the mediation, stopped Wolfe from commenting further about the settlement.
“I think we should not talk about the contract,” Seltzer said.
Interim County Administrator for Warren County Edwin Daley, County Attorney Jason Ham, legal counsel for the EDA Sharon Pandak, EDA Administrative Assistant Gretchen Henderson, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Cheryl L. Cullers and Supervisor Delores R. Oates also attended the meeting