STRASBURG — The Strasburg Town Council is expected to vote on an occupancy agreement for the fire station at its meeting next month.
The four-page agreement would allow the fire department to use the station rent-free at 163 E. King St. to operate a volunteer fire department, according to discussions at Monday night's council meeting.
Maintenance of the structure, and all fixtures, will be the responsibility and ownership of the town, according to the agreement that the town will sign with the fire department. The town would have the ability to seek reimbursement for expenses related to maintenance on the building, as well as other cost recuperating measures.
The agreement is to run indefinitely and can be broken by either party at any time.
The agreement is a product of a restructuring committee created in 2018 to provide oversight of the department after some of its members were accused of having sexual relations with a 17-year-old girl. Five of the six former members accused of the act were sentenced to jail time. Charges against the sixth member were dismissed.
Interim Town Manager Jay McKinley said during Monday’s meeting that the fire department has returned revised bylaws created by a restructuring committee.
According to Mayor Brandy Boies, the bylaws are now being reviewed by the restructuring committee before they are sent back to the fire department for final approval. Once final approval occurs, the fire department will have full control of its operations. The restructuring committee will serve as a resource until new officers and committees are established. Boies said the process should be completed by the end of the year.
In another discussion Monday night, council members Taralyn Nicholson and Doreen Ricard stated the town does not have a business-friendly reputation and questioned town Planning and Zoning Administrator Lee Pambid about signage.
Pambid said that when businesses inquire about what’s allowed for signs, he gives objective, legal guidance based on what’s in the Unified Development Ordinance. He then doesn’t hear about issues with the guidance he provides.
“Is it expressed to the business person that they could apply for a variance at that time?” Nicholson said.
Proper zoning administration, especially in the instances of signs, wouldn’t warrant a variance because it doesn’t involve the taking of land, Pambid said. Nicholson said that’s the problem.
Boies said during the meeting she would work with McKinley on prioritizing sign issues. People coming forward with specific issues is needed as the town is trying to improve the Unified Development Ordinance, Boies said by phone interview Tuesday.
Related to the Unified Development Ordinance, the council also heard an update on use matrices, bonding and subdivision ordinance changes being worked on by the Berkley Group.
An update on the Short Term Rental ordinance, or regulations for properties being used with Airbandb-type systems, was also given. The Northern Shenandoah Valley Regional Commission is helping with the update. A meeting tonight seeks user input, before the ordinance change approval process begins.
Also at the next council meeting, the town will give a second reading and adopt an updated tree ordinance to be recognized as a Tree City USA. The first reading was Monday night.
The ordinance seeks to provide regulations of trees in public areas and trees on private property that encroach on public right of ways. The revisions include clarifying which species of trees are allowed in such areas and penalties for violations.
Councilman John Massoud proposed amendments to the ordinance to inhibit residents who may use the ordinance against their neighbors.
At the end of the meeting, Vice Mayor Ken Cherrix stated he’s having discussions with Police Chief Wayne Sager about allegations of children vandalizing and participating in illegal activity at the town’s pavilion next to Town Hall and underneath the track tracks behind a car wash. One incident at the tracks involved somebody going to the hospital, Cherrix said.
The next Town Council meeting is scheduled for June 8.