Front Royal Town Council members on Monday cut the number of monthly meetings in half to speed up the ordinance-approval process.
Vice Mayor Lori A. Cockrell and council members Gary L. Gillispie, E. Scott Lloyd, Jacob L. Meza and Letasha T. Thompson voted in favor of a motion to adopt an ordinance to change the town code sections pertaining to the number of regular meetings and work sessions the council holds each month. Councilman Joseph E. McFadden voted against the motion. Mayor Christopher W. Holloway attended the meeting. The mayor votes only in the event of a tie.
McFadden has voiced concerns about reducing the number of readings the council must hold before it can put an ordinance into effect.
Council members held a public hearing on the matter at its regular meeting on Feb. 8 and voted on its first reading to approve the changes.
The change to Town Code reduces the number of regular meetings per month from two to one and work sessions from two to one. Each regular meeting currently includes a time for the public to comment on items not the subject of a public hearing.
The Town Code had also required that the council hold two readings for any ordinances, the first of which includes the required public hearing. Council usually takes action on the second reading of an ordinance at the next regular meeting. The proposal would eliminate the second reading and thus the extra time, often at least two weeks, that allows council members, town officials and the public to think about or to comment on the ordinance.
The motion approved by council Monday also allows a majority of a quorum of members to adopt in January the order of business for each meeting that calendar year.
Council members addressed the proposed order of business but decided to discuss the matter at a work session. Some members raised questions about the proposal to hold a public comment meeting at 6:30 p.m., a half an hour before the regular meeting. Council members asked how that would work if speakers exceeded the 30-minute period. They also asked about the proposal to not broadcast the public comment period as part of the live stream of the meeting. Officials said the public comment period would still be posted on the town’s website.
Lloyd asked Town Manager Steven Hicks if there was a technical reason why the public comment period could not be broadcast live.
“No, there is not,” Hicks said. “This way we can record and capture the public comment period and then share it the next day.”
Also at the meeting, council members voted to:
• Approve the sale of the town's portion of property known as McKay Springs at Reliance Road and Winchester Road (U.S. 340-522). Council members approved the sale by way of an ordinance on its second reading. No one spoke during the public hearing on the matter.
• Appoint Josh L. Ingram to the Planning Commission to serve an unexpired term ending Aug. 31. Ingram fills a seat left vacant by Joseph E. McFadden, who was elected to the Town Council in November. Ingram also ran as a candidate for a council seat but did not receive enough votes.
• Appoint Colin Waters to the Board of Architectural Review to a four-year term ending Nov. 13, 2024.