Front Royal Council begins ‘clean up’ of town charter

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL, March 19 — As the town prepares to celebrate its 225th anniversary next year, members of the council have initiated an effort to remove outdated and redundant sections of Front Royal’s charter.
Councilman Shae Parker said at a council work session Monday night that the document is “grossly outdated.”
In addition to passages that are no longer relevant — the council now has six members, not four — Parker said the document needed to be brought into the 21st century.
The word ‘he’ appears 26 times,” Parker noted. There is no mention of “she.”
The charter also refers to council havig the power to remove Board of Zoning Appeals members, which it no long has, he noted.
Mayor Tim Darr asked that staff, with assistance from Parker, “clean up the language in the charter” first and hold off on special ideas.
“We need to get it cleaned up, that’s the goal,” Darr said. “Find out what’s feasible, what’s not and come back with those recommendations.”
After that, Darr said, the council could go into discussions on possible substantive changes or amendments to the charter.
Changes mentioned by the council included making petition the only way to be on the ballot for election to council or as mayor and moving the elections to November.
Councilman Thomas Conkey said he’d like to see that petition requirement for the ballot to keep the town elections non-partisan.
Conkey also said he’d like to talk about a requirement that the mayor vote on all issues, “so we’d know where he stands.”
When the update is finished and discussions of change begin, Parker said he wants to explore the idea of Front Royal becoming a city.
“I know that scares people at first,” he cautioned, but explained that there are provisions in the charter that allow for contracting with the school board and sharing constitutional officers with the county.
“We’re the sixth largest town in the commonwealth and we exceed the provisions of becoming a city by almost three times,” Parker said. “But there’s some sticking points, like a moratorium on annexation for cities, but through a charter change, we may be able to circumvent that.”
Parker noted that the charter changes would have to be approved in the next session of the General Assembly.

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