Petitions Rejected by State

By: Damon Dillman
By: Damon Dillman

The state will not move forward with a lawsuit set forth by Front Royal residents to remove several town officials.

"Well you can bet the farm that we're all disappointed and that we disagree very much with (the commonwealth's attorney's) conclusions," said Betty Molchany, a member of the Committee on Petitions for Removal.

"I'm determined to continue. These officials should not continue in office."

On Wednesday the Commonwealth's Attorney's Office for the City of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County announced it's dismissing petitions Molchany and others had collected.

The petitions called for the removal of Front Royal mayor Robert Tennett Jr. and three town council members - Elmer "Dusty" McIntosh, Hollis Tharpe, and Joseph McDaniel.

In a press release, the Commonwealth's Attorney said ". . . removal of Town Council members has not occurred in the past absent illegal behavior . . . There is no proof that the Town Council acted in violation of law."

The group had been attempting to remove the officials after they approved the re-zoning of a spot of land in town for a new Wal-Mart, in spite of the objections of several residents and other officials.

"Basically our town officials, these town officials that we're trying to recall are showing a gross disregard for all these issues brought up by very intelligent people and experts of all kinds, and other town officials," said Laura Randolph, also a member of the committee.

Despite the Commonwealth Attorney's decision not to prosecute, the two sides will meet in court on Sept. 11.

There is still one outstanding motion between the two sides, filed by the town against the petition collectors for what Mayor Tennett called a "frivolous lawsuit."

But Molchany refuses to concede defeat.

"I'm not sure that we have any options left at all, unless somehow or other we have some attorney who would come forward, pro bono, because we don't have the money, to come forward and somehow or other ask the court prior to Setp. 11 to say, 'Allow me to try the case on their behalf,'" she said

"We still believe in the case."

Because of the Sept. 11 court date, Mayor Tennett and the council members could not comment on the decision of the Commonwealth's Attorney.

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