Front Royal can receive a share of a multi-million-dollar settlement deal reached with drug manufacturers and distributors over the opioid epidemic.

The Town Council voted unanimously at its meeting Monday to approve resolutions to participate in both the national and Virginia opioid settlement agreement. Doing so allows the town to receive a share of a $96 million settlement deal reached by federal authorities with several companies accused of playing a role in creating the opioid abuse epidemic.

Vice Mayor Lori A. Cockrell and council members Gary L. Gillispie, E. Scott Lloyd, Joseph E. McFadden, Amber F. Morris and Letasha T. Thompson voted in favor of the motion. Mayor Christopher W. Holloway also attended the meeting.

Information provided at the meeting notes that the epidemic has killed thousands of people across the country and has adversely affected the areas of emergency medical services, law enforcement, criminal justice, mental health care and substance abuse. Virginia and its localities can expect to spend more tax dollars, resources, staff energy and time to address the damage from the pandemic.

A settlement agreement reached by federal authorities with McKesson, Cardinal Health, AmerisourceBergen and Janssen calls for the companies to pay up to $26 million nationwide to resolve opioid-related claims against them.

Front Royal needed to approve the opioid settlement agreement resolution in order to collect a share of what Virginia receives from the national claim. The town would receive no money if it did not choose to participate. Front Royal’s share depends on how many localities choose to participate in the settlement agreement and submit the required resolutions before Jan. 2. The Office of the Attorney General of Virginia and participating localities also must enter into a memorandum of understanding that would create an opioid abatement fund and an authority assigned to disburse money awarded through the settlement.

Also at the meeting, council members:

  • Recognized Front Royal Police Department Capt. Crystal Cline for graduating from the Southern Police Institute.
  • Approved an amendment to the fiscal 2022 budget of $2,090 in a grant from the Virginia Department of Forestry to purchase playground shade trees for Gertrude E. Miller Community Park.
  • Approved an amendment to the fiscal 2022 budget of $476,617, and a transfer of $216,635 from one budget line item to another, to cover one-time bonuses of $3,096 to eligible employees and distributed on Dec. 8.
  • Approved a fiscal 2022 budget amendment of $2,690 in a local law enforcement block grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services through the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant program.
  • Approved a waiver requested by Boy Scout Troop 52 from the $100 license tax associated with selling Christmas trees during the holiday season and extended through Dec. 31, 2026.
  • Approved a waiver requested by Melissa Ichiuji from the Board of Architectural Review fee for a certificate of appropriateness. Ichiuji plans to paint a mural to serve as a construction barrier at the corner of North Royal Avenue and Main Street, adjacent to the former Afton Inn property.
  • Approved a proposal by CHA Consulting Inc. to subcontract with Hydrostructures in the amount of $130,000 for additional closed-circuit television inspection needs to identify cost-effective repairs to the town’s sanitary sewer system.
  • Approved CHA Consulting Inc.’s proposal for providing a centrifuge conversion preliminary engineering report for the Wastewater Treatment Plant in the amount of $33,000.
  • Approved a request from HEPTAD LLC to extend its deadline to submit a development plan for its property for one year ending Dec. 3, 2022. Town Attorney Douglas Napier recused himself from taking part in any action or negotiations related to the HEPTAD matter before council. Napier disclosed that had provided legal services to parties involved in HEPTAD years ago when he worked in a private practice. As a result, Napier said he acquired a small fraction of ownership in the company. HEPTAD owns the property in town. The property is under consideration to be sold. Napier said he has a financial interest in the company. Napier said he recused himself so as to avoid a conflict of interest.
  • Approved a resolution recognizing Andrea White for her four years of service on the Board of Architectural Review.
  • Nominated Cody Taylor to the judge of the Warren County Circuit Court for appointment to the Board of Zoning Appeals to a five-year term ending May 1, 2026.
  • Referred to the Planning Commission the review of proposed amendments to the town zoning ordinance pertaining to short-term rentals.
  • Granted a request from Warren Memorial Hospital for a 5-year extension of a stormwater management easement at its former hospital property on North Shenandoah Avenue.

Council members also met in closed session to:

  • Discuss a joint endeavor with organizations in town to consider providing health care services.
  • Consult with legal counsel about an existing agreement, to which the town already is a party, that has become problematic, and the town wishes to consider its legal options.
  • Discuss appointments to the Front Royal Economic Development Authority, the Environmental Sustainability Advisory Committee and the Board of Zoning Appeals.

– Contact Alex Bridges at abridges@nvdaily.com