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Fauquier County supervisors approve rodeo center near Remington

Monday, Mar. 24 | By Jonathan Hunley
Rancho La Pura Vida, "Pure Life," is expanding from its private horse training to providing public rodeo events and training. Maria Rodriguez (pictured with Diamond) runs the operation with her husband Jaime Martinez (atop Rebelde: "Rebel"). Photo by Doug Stroud
This being horse country, an equestrian training and event center shouldn't have any problem getting approved in Fauquier County, right?

Well …

Rancho La Pura Vida was unanimously OK'd by Fauquier's Board of Supervisors last week. But that approval came after complaints from Culpeper residents, public comments in two counties and a letter from one local government to another.

The Fauquier Planning Commission on Jan. 30 unanimously recommended approval of Maria Rodriguez' plan to build a rodeo center on Sumerduck Road near Remington.

But that vote came after a handful of residents from across the Rappahannock River in Culpeper County complained about noise and other issues at another equestrian facility Rodriguez has operated on the Sumerduck Road land.

One of those residents, Jamie Craig, repeated his concerns last month to the Culpeper County supervisors, who sent a letter to their brethren in Fauquier, asking them to consider noise issues as they decided whether to approve Rodriguez' proposal.

"Culpeper County has residents that are directly impacted by the manner in which the rodeo operates and conducts its business," wrote Steven Walker, who chairs Culpeper's Board of Supervisors.

Rodriguez has to take down the barn that the Culpeper residents complained about anyway, though, because it's in a floodplain.

So, the thinking goes, the noise concerns should be addressed when she opens an arena under construction on nearly six acres of the central portion of the 146-acre site. It's farther from the Rappahannock, and thus farther away from the Culpeper residents who were upset.

Rodriguez plans to mix American and Mexican styles of rodeos at the new location. Events there would include bull-riding, barrel-racing and lassoing.

Speakers at a public hearing Thursday praised Rodriguez and the work she does with horses and their human companions. And many in the Board of Supervisors chambers in the Warren Green Building wore stickers bearing a horse's head and the message "Vote Yes Rodeo."

"It's so fun," 13-year-old Fabian Lugo said of his time working with Rodriguez. "I love being there."

Michele Taylor said Rodriguez has a passion for equine matters and takes good care of horses.

That's something the Fauquier County resident can appreciate.

"I'm 51 years old, and I still barrel-race," Taylor said.

Richardsville resident Kurt Christensen, meanwhile, said he came to Warrenton to show that not everyone in Culpeper County is against the rodeo center.

"I come in peace," he joked.

Like those in the audience at the meeting, the supervisors had nothing but nice things to say about Rodriguez and her plans.

Supervisor Chris Granger said he remembered similar rodeos from growing up in the Southwest.

"This looks like a winner to me,"

Supervisor Peter Schwartz said the number of people who spoke in favor of the rodeo showed he and his colleagues just how strong the support for Rodriguez is.

"Maybe some evening you'll see all five of us down there to visit," he said.

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