After an hour of closed session to open its monthly April evening meeting, the Warren County Board of Supervisors convened its open session at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19. Business” to consider as the meeting’s final talking points or action items produced a surprise on the agenda for those remaining when the meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.
That surprise was the acceptance of the “Notice of Termination of the Shenandoah Farms Subdivision Health District Management Agreement provided by the owners of Shenandoah Farms, Inc.…to be effective June 30, 2022.” Legal advice on the Farms Health District was again one of the topics council considered behind closed doors Tuesday night, as it had the previous week.
Other matters behind closed doors on April 19and included legal advice regarding various FR-WC EDA litigation, including the civil dueling lawsuit with the City of Front Royal, that against Jennifer McDonald and other civil defendants, and “other claims and potential litigation relating to other possible responsibilities of EDA, the recovery of funds and assets of EDA and the outstanding debt of EDA”; as well as the “potential business or industry” discussed very recently behind closed doors that was to be located in the District of Shenandoah, on both sides of the city-county line.
But in the absence of public action or comment on these issues, it was the county’s acceptance of POSF’s initiative to regain management control of the health district that opened the evening’s eyes. .
But about Old Oak Lane
But in a related area, the fate of Phases 4 and 5 of the Old Oak Lane Rural Addition Revenue Sharing Projects was much less clear after a lengthy discussion of design, cost and financing variables. The Agenda File staff summary noted that on March 29, the POSF requested the projects be withdrawn due to rising costs.
“All engineering should be halted so that no additional costs are incurred. At this time, all further rural road programs should be suspended until further notice,” POSF President Ralph Rinaldi wrote. , to County Public Works Director Mike Berry in the March 29 notice of his council’s vote to stand down for the time being.
The question was originally part of the consent program for routine business not requiring any public discussion. Berry’s agenda summary stated that “the decision to step down was made after county staff presented significant projected construction cost increases to POSF. The construction cost of Old Oak IV is currently estimated to be $598,950 over the VDOT-approved construction budget of $998,250. Similar increases are planned for Old Oak V with a current VDOT budget of $1,077,903.
Berry also pointed out that “100% of the projected increase in construction costs should be paid for by Warren County and the Shenandoah Farms Health District.” Given that it was about a mile of road improvements and about $1.2 million in additional costs to be covered by county and health district funding, there was apparently little to no pushback by county staff at the request of the POSF.
However, Farms resident Melissa Chappell-White urged council to postpone a decision during public comments at the start of the meeting. North River District Supervisor Delores Oates then led the council’s efforts to obtain additional information before committing to withdraw from the projects. The health district’s tax revenue collected in recent years and earmarked for the projects was a primary concern expressed by Oates in seeking to delay a withdrawal decision. His motion to file a ruling passed by a 5-0 vote.
But before that vote at the table and with the threat of additional costs incurred on the county side if the preparation of the projects continues, the director of public works, Berry, presented a long explanation of these cost increases in the projects assisted by the VDOT. He said the cost increases revolved around engineering costs related to design changes to the originally planned traditional culverts deemed necessary to handle the amount of stormwater expected to flow over the roads. The change was described as a series of four purpose-built culverts, essentially “bridges” that were called a financially “catastrophic change”.
When asked if there was a deadline or optimal time for a board decision, Berry replied, “Yesterday.” Noting the potential for additional costs incurred as projects move forward, County Administrator Ed Daley observed, “We have to fish or cut the bait.” It appeared that the council would adjust the agenda for its next working sessions to allow for a rapid reversal of a decision, possibly by May 3.
As the final public comment speaker, County Department of Social Services Director Jon Martz rose to recognize April as Child Abuse Prevention Month. Along with County Parks & Rec, this Saturday, April 23, WC DSS will host a Child Abuse Recognition Jubilee for the prevention of child abuse open free to the public at 15and Street soccer field at the Health & Human Services Complex. Special guests at the 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. event will be Bikers Against Child Abuse, an advocacy group that supports victims of child abuse during court appearances. They will make their bikes available to children attending the event for photo ops, Martz noted. So come have fun supporting all the kids in this community.
Six Public hearings began at 7:30 a.m., five of them being conditional use permit (CUP) requests for short-term tourist rentals, the other for a request for a time waiver to allow for a “voluntary transfer of a lot subdivided proposed to an immediate family member”. Only one of the six attracted a public speaker, and it was a favorable neighbor in the final application for a short-term tourist rental permit. Planning Director Joe Petty, Deputy Director Matt Wendling and Zoning Officer Chase Lenz summarized the various demands for the council. On recommendations for approval from the County Planning Commission with various conditions attached, all six were approved by a 5-0 vote by supervisors.
Following the opening public hearing on the Subdivided batch deviation request of Robert and Crystal Dolan, those Short Term Tourist Rental Permit applications were in order of presentation for:
Emilia Simeonova and Sergei Kulaev at 5462 Browntown Road;
Jerry Lang Jr. at 468 Lands Run Road;
Nicholas Webster and Morgan McCabe at 203 Mossy Rock Way;
Pratik Patel at 368 Freeze Road;
And Michael and Judith Albarelli at 740 Broad Run Road.
Tax rates were approved as announced for “calendar year 2022…with the exception of the personal property tax rate due to ongoing concerns about increasing vehicle values.
Then a second item was added to the agenda at the start of the meeting, at the request of County Administrator Daley, and the last business of the evening was the adoption of a draft policy of health district for Tree/brush removal and wood disposal. After another presentation by Director of Public Works Berry and a philosophical discussion propelled by Oates on the relative merits of the rules surrounding the provision of cut wood from the sides of roads in the health district for the collection of residents for heating purposes by over intrusive government surveillance, the project was approved by a 4-1 vote, with Oates casting the only dissenting vote of the evening.