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UPDATED: Culpeper County supervisors weigh in on Remington rodeo site

Tuesday, Feb. 4 | By Jonathan Hunley
This Google Earth image shows the property where a proposed rodeo site would be near Remington.
A Remington-area horse trainer would be able to hold rodeos on Sumerduck Road if the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors gives its blessing.

But before the supervisors act, they're going to get a letter from their peers in Culpeper County who are concerned about noise from the events.

After hearing from the owner of 52 acres across the Rappahannock River from the Sumerduck Road land, the Culpeper supervisors voted unanimously this morning to urge Fauquier's board to consider sound issues when deciding whether to approve the rodeo center.

Fauquier's Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to recommend the supervisors approve the rodeo plans of Maria Rodriguez.

She has to take down her current training facility near the river as it lies in a floodplain.

So she proposes building an open arena on nearly six acres of the central portion of a 146-acre site.

She aims to mix American and Mexican styles of rodeos. Events there would include bull-riding, barrel-racing and lassoing, and they primarily would be held on weekends from noon to 9 p.m.

A number of Rodriguez' students and friends spoke in favor of her proposal at a public hearing Thursday night.

"I think it will be good for the county," said Neil Selby, who runs Shady Grove Kennel and has a farm in the Remington area.

One boy even told the commission that learning to ride horses has benefited him in a way that goes beyond the barn.

"It's helped my grades, actually," he said.

But a handful of residents who live across the Rappahannock in Culpeper complained Thursday about noise .

They said they can hear music from Rodriguez' current operation on their properties.

One of those speakers, Jamie Craig, repeated his concerns this morning to Culpeper supervisors.

"It never stops now," he said of music playing at Rodriguez' current digs.

He asked the Culpeper board to recommend to the Fauquier supervisors a proposed decibel level for sound at Rodriguez' new horse center as well as reduced hours of operation.

Culpeper Supervisor William C. Chase Jr., who represents the area where Craig's farm is located, suggested asking the Fauquier board not to allow any music at Rodriguez' events.

The rodeos seem OK, he said, "but skip the mariachi band."

Culpeper Supervisors Alexa Fritz and Sue Hansohn, however, said one county shouldn't necessarily give specific orders to another.

"We wouldn't appreciate that if Fauquier came to us," Hansohn said.

The final decision, then, was to send a letter that expressed general concerns.

The notion of Culpeper's supervisors getting involved at all is unusual, but the situation involves Culpeper landowners with a grievance against a Fauquier resident, Rodriguez, who also happens to work for the Culpeper County Sheriff's Office, as a detective.

Rodriguez didn't attend this morning's meeting.

But outside Thursday's gathering, she said, "None of my neighbors have complained" about noise.

Before making a motion to recommend approval of the event center, Fauquier Planning Commissioner John Meadows said Thursday that he met with Rodriguez several times.

He noted that she and her family are operating a sod operation on the property called Remington Turf Farm, and that the new equestrian enterprise is the next step in her business goals.

"She's trying to do what the American Dream is," Meadows said.

Craig, however, said he's not that different from Rodriguez. He proposed to his wife in 2002 on his land after carving their initials in a nearby beech tree.

"She's not the only one pursuing an American dream," he said of Rodriguez.

* * *

A Remington-area horse trainer would be able to hold rodeos and other events on Sumerduck Road if the Fauquier Board of Supervisors gives its blessing.

The county's Planning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to recommend the supervisors approve the plans of Maria Rodriguez.

Rodriguez also will have to take down her current training facility near the river as it lies in a floodplain.

So she proposes building an open arena on nearly six acres of the central portion of a 146-acre site.

She aims to mix American and Mexican styles of rodeos. Events there would include bull-riding, barrel-racing and lassoing, and they primarily would be held on weekends from noon to 9 p.m.

A number of Rodriguez' neighbors, students and friends spoke in favor of her proposal at a public hearing Thursday night.

"I think it will be good for the county," said Neil Selby, who runs Shady Grove Kennel.

One boy even told the commission that learning to ride horses has benefited him in a way that goes beyond the barn.

"It's helped my grades, actually," he said.

But a handful of residents who live across the Rappahannock in Culpeper County complained about noise.

They said they can hear music from Rodriguez' current operation on their properties.

Another speaker, though, said the music probably is coming from another Fauquier property.

And, outside the meeting, Rodriguez said, "None of my neighbors have complained."

Before making a motion to recommend approval of the event center, Planning Commissioner John Meadows said he met with Rodriguez several times.

He noted that she and her family are operating a sod operation on the property called Remington Turf Farm, and that the new equestrian enterprise is the next step in her business goals.

"She's trying to do what the American Dream is," Meadows said.

He also said that the Mexican rodeo practice of horse tripping should not be allowed at Rodriguez' site.

Tripping occurs when a cowboy lassos a horse's legs, causing the animal to crash to the ground. It's outlawed in several states, Meadows noted Thursday, though Virginia isn't one of them.

"Maria is adamantly against that," Christer Carshult, engineer for Rodriguez' project, told a reporter after the vote.

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