WINCHESTER — The Frederick County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday night unanimously voted against a proposed ordinance to designate private roads and streets in the Lake Frederick subdivision as highways — a move that would have allowed law enforcement to take action against careless drivers.

Earlier this summer, the county received a request to consider such an ordinance by a member of the Lake Frederick Homeowners Association (HOA). Because the roads are private, law enforcement officers do not have authority to issue summonses for routine traffic offenses — such as for speeding and driving through stop signs. Serious traffic offenses — such as driving under the influence or reckless driving — are still enforceable.

Virginia Code § 46.2-1307 provides that a locality may designate private roads within any residential development containing 100 or more lots or residential dwelling units as highways for law enforcement purposes, county Attorney Roderick Williams previously explained.

The proposal received opposition from several members of the Lake Frederick community, who felt that the issue was an HOA matter that shouldn’t involve interference from the Frederick County government. Some Lake Frederick residents said they weren’t given enough information about the proposed change.

“After reading all of these emails and speaking with residents on both sides, I just don’t feel the board at this time should get into a situation where we really don’t know if there is a large consensus of Lake Frederick residents who want to do this,” said Opequon Supervisor Bob Wells, who made the motion to deny. 

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the board unanimously voted to repeal Chapter 86 ordinance of the County Code, which regulates festivals and other large events. The code defined festivals as any gathering of more than 100 individuals or of a commercial nature, if either is for the purpose of listening to or participating in entertainment which consists primarily of musical renditions conducted outdoors, not within an enclosed structure. Prior to Wednesday night, anyone who wanted to hold a musical or entertainment festival in the unincorporated areas of the county had to obtain an outdoor festival permit.

Over the decades, the ordinance has been misused by businesses who lacked a conditional use permit to hold large, commercial events. These businesses often tried to skirt-by obtaining a CUP by instead applying for a 12-month festival permit.

“The final determination was that the origin of this festival permit came about because of a little concert that happened up in New York called Woodstock back in 1969 I believe,” said Gainesboro Supervisor J. Douglas McCarthy. “Following that, most localities passed a festival permit ordinance related to music festivals requiring that a locality get permission for holding open music festivals. Over the years, this has morphed into an ordinance that required folks like nonprofits in the area to get permission to hold fundraisers and other things. It’s become somewhat convoluted.”

McCarthy suggested doing away with the Chapter 86 ordinance in its entirety. Williams said that zoning limitations and noise ordinances should be able to prevent outdoor festivals from getting out of hand and disturbing the peace.

“Realistically this was not intended to regulate nonprofit events,” Williams said. "I don’t believe we have had problem with those events. Most of this can be handled through other means of regulation.”

Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. said he was concerned about “creating a free for all” for outdoor festivals. However, he said the board can always wait and see how things turn out. If problems arise, the supervisors can always vote to create a new ordinance. The repeal of Chapter 86 becomes effective Dec. 31.

Attending the meeting at 107 N. Kent Street were Chairman Charles DeHaven Jr. and Board members Gene Fisher, Doug McCarthy, Judith McCann-Slaughter, Bob Wells and Shawn Graber. Blaine Dunn was absent.

— Contact Josh Janney at jjanney@winchesterstar.com