WINCHESTER — City Council has unanimously approved the appointment of an interim city manager to replace Eden Freeman, who is leaving Winchester to become deputy city manager of Greenville, South Carolina.

Mary Beth Price, of Strasburg, will assume office March 17, one day after Freeman’s departure. She will be paid $84.50 per hour, and she has agreed to stay on the job until a permanent successor is hired.

After graduating from Strasburg High School in 1978, Price was named town clerk and director of finance for her hometown. In 1997, she went to work for the government of Shenandoah County, holding various positions until ultimately being named county administrator. She retired in April.

City Council is currently vetting recruitment agencies to search for a permanent city manager. It met in executive session for 50 minutes Tuesday night to discuss its options, but took no action after its closed-door discussions.

In other business at Tuesday’s meeting and work session, City Council:

Unanimously denied a conditional-use permit (CUP) request from Evan Riggleman to use a home he rents at 346 Virginia Ave. as a short-term rental property for travelers that use online booking services such as Airbnb and Craigslist.

Unanimously approved an amendment to City Code that allows Winchester to use first-class mail, rather than certified letters, to notify people to remove excess trash and garbage from their properties.

Held a public hearing on an ordinance to vacate and convey 1,607 square feet of city-owned property at 520 Meadow Branch Ave. to an adjoining property owner. Council will vote on the issue and decide at its next meeting on March 10 how much the property owner will be charged for the parcel.

Unanimously agreed to appoint Perry Eisenach, Shawn Hershberger and John Piper as in-house viewers for the property conveyance at 520 Meadow Branch Ave.

Heard a wrap-up of last year’s activities to celebrate Winchester’s 275th anniversary.

Held a first reading of an ordinance to establish the composition and election schedule for the city School Board, which is transitioning to an elected body Jan. 1.

Unanimously agreed to forward a resolution that would designate the entire city as an Urban Development Area, which would make it easier for Winchester to qualify for state grants and incentives for infrastructure projects.

Unanimously agreed to forward a CUP request from Bassers Building LLC to construct two medical office buildings, one of which may contain up to eight residential apartments, at 633 Cedar Creek Grade.

Received the city’s annual performance report for 2019.

Heard a presentation on trash and recycling collection options for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1.

Agreed to appropriate an additional $1.2 million to cover cost increases for a City Yards improvement project that was originally budgeted at $9 million.

Voted 7-1 to deny city department heads the option of appealing to council disciplinary actions taken against them by the city manager. Councilor Les Veach opposed the measure.

Held a discussion on whether an agency should be established to investigate complaints made by staff against the city manager and city attorney. No action was taken, but Councilor Kim Herbstritt asked City Attorney Melisa G. Michelson to obtain information on how council could establish a human rights commission to handle employee grievances.

Unanimously agreed to forward the reappointments of Phillip Pate to a three-year term on the Northwestern Community Services Board, ending March 9, 2023, and Brandon Pifer to a four-year term on the Planning Commission, ending March 9, 2024.

Unanimously agreed to forward the appointments of Arthur Kearns to a three-year term on the Winchester-Frederick County Tourism Board, ending March 9, 2023; James Imoh to the remainder of an unexpired term on the Economic Development Authority, ending Aug. 31, 2021, and Paul Richardson to the remainder of an unexpired term on the Planning Commission, ending Dec. 31, 2021.

Attending Tuesday’s council meeting and work session in Rouss City Hall were Mayor and council President David Smith, Vice Mayor John Hill, Vice President Evan Clark and councilors Kim Herbstritt, John Willingham, Les Veach, Bill Wiley and Judy McKiernan. Councilor Corey Sullivan was absent.

— Contact Brian Brehm at bbrehm@winchesterstar.com

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