Supervisors seek answers from EDA on housing project

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — Front Royal-Warren County Economic Development Authority officials were called before the Board of Supervisors Tuesday during a work session to be questioned regarding the workforce housing project.

EDA Vice Chairman Greg Drescher said he and EDA Director Jennifer McDonald would do their best to answer questions.

"There's no secret agenda here. We'd like to bring workforce housing to our locality," Drescher said.

The EDA first planned to build an apartment complex in 2014 at a Royal Lane site donated by Mr. and Mrs. Walter L. Campbell, who are McDonaldís aunt and uncle.

The land was initially to be "gifted" to the EDA. A missed March 1 deadline, however, retuned the land to the Campbells. The EDA now must buy the land to proceed.

The deadline was ìbetween the Campbells and whatever agency they were qualified for for a tax break. This is not a deadline that was between the Campbells and the EDA,î McDonald said.

Supervisor Chairman Linda Glavis asked if the EDA board members were aware of the relationship between the Campbells and McDonald. Drescher said they all were made aware in 2014.

McDonald said all EDA members were made aware of the March 1 deadline in 2014. There is, however nothing in the minutes, Drescher said.

Supervisor Tom Sayre recalled a recent conversation he had with Drescher.

"You said that you did not recall anything, but you had no reason to doubt that Jennifer told you, but you didn't recall anything. That's still accurate, isn't it?" Sayre asked

Drescher said he is "sure" it was discussed.

"But you don't recall it?" Saryre asked.

"I'm sure it was," Drescher said.

County Attorney Dan Whitten, who represents the Board of Supervisors and EDA, ìconflicted outî of representing the EDA on the workforce housing issue. He did this due to a possible conflict of interest, he said last week.

Whitten thought it best to represent his primary client, the Board of Supervisors. He added that he and former County Attorney Blair Mitchell were not aware of the deadline until it was released in a newspaper article.

McDonald noted that it is not one entityís fault for missing the deadline due to changing site plans, dealings with the DEQ, and easements.

"This has become a typical process … it's just the process that it has become trying to get something approved," McDonald said.

Glavis asked what the EDA would do differently, looking back on the project. Drescher said that is a fair question, but it should be assessed when the project is complete.

"I don't know that I have a real good answer at this point. I think at the end of the day maybe I would, you know, when it's all said and done," Drescher said.

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