The Fauquier County Planning Commission plans to travel to Delaplane Wednesday morning (Aug. 14) to view the site where Brian Roeder wants to build a 42-room lodge and a restaurant to serve guests, offer recreational amenities and hold up to 78 events such as wedding receptions, reunions and corporate events each year.
The proposal has stirred opposition from those who view it as a commercial development disrupting a rural area with traffic and noise. They say the venture belongs within the Marshall Service District and not outside it.
Roeder says the Lodge at Barrel Oak would fill a need for overnight accommodations, generate up to $200,000 in tax revenue and that he will address concerns about traffic, noise, groundwater and septic service. He points to support from some who agree with him about the need, the tax revenue and employment opportunities that will result.
The site is adjacent to his Barrel Oak Winery and Taproom off Grove Lane on 50 acres, zoned agriculture with a house, stable and several outbuildings. The existing 8,300 square foot house would be converted and expanded into a 32,000 square foot lodge with a private restaurant for guests.
Roeder said in the statement of justification he filed with the county that most of the property would remain in agricultural use – vineyards and pasture for horses. He said neighboring homes are at least 2,000 feet from the proposed lodge location.
Roeder expects to have eight to 10 full-time employees in the lodge and 16 to 24 part- and full-time employees in the restaurant.
He estimates that the project will cost a minimum of $10 million to build.
Roeder needs approval of a special exception to expand and convert the home into a lodge. He needs a special exception to hold up to 78 events per year and another for a fire suppression sprinkler-system fed from above-ground storage tanks. He also needs one to install a sewage system with an 11,000-gallon per day peak capacity.
Wednesday’s site visit precedes a presentation by county staff to the planning commission at a work session open to the public at 9:15 a.m. Thursday in the first-floor meeting room of the Warren Green building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton. Roeder has asked for a postponement before his application comes to the commission for a public hearing and vote. He will be revising his application, according to Adam Shellenberger, the county’s chief of planning. The planning commission’s recommendation will go to the board of supervisors for a public hearing and vote.
But revised or not, some say it doesn’t belong where Roeder wants to build it.
“Clearly, this will have an effect on the quality of life,” said Jeb Hannum, who lives near the site. He’s a member of a 20-member group called the Fauquier Countryside Preservation Group, formed specifically to oppose Roeder’s plan. “Our group is also focused on the precedent this would set and what impact it will have on the whole county. If the county is going to follow the comprehensive plan how can it allow a large commercial project in a rural agriculture area?”
Hannum said that events would be held outside with amplified music into night hours. He said there’s been no study of the purported need for such a lodge, only Roeder citing comments from his winery customers.
“The county has a strategy of concentrating commercial development in the service district because that’s where the county has made investment in infrastructure,” added Kevin Ramundo, an Upperville resident and communications consultant working with the countryside preservation group.
Hotels aren’t allowed in rural agricultural areas, he added. “What is essentially a hotel has been characterized as a resort to circumvent the zoning rule that prohibits hotels in RA areas,” Ramundo said.
The proposed lodge is about two miles outside the Marshall service district.
Supporters of the plan include businessman Dennis Taylor. He lives in Catlett, but he’s visited Barrel Oak with his wife.
“I think it’s fantastic. There are no upper-scale places to stay in that area. I think it’s needed,” Taylor said. He noted that it will add to the county’s tax revenue.
“I’m in favor of business growth and this would be an addition,” Taylor said.
He said he and his wife have stayed at Salamander Resort and would consider staying at Roeder’s planned venue.
Yaron Linett, a Warrenton resident and owner of an interior design business, said the proposed lodge would provide a place for out-of-town relatives to stay.
“As a husband, it would be another place to take my wife,” Linett added.
“I understand that people have concerns. But in the end, I don’t think those problems will pan out. I’ve known Brian for several years and I believe him to be a responsible individual.”
Comments from others that are part of the application case file include one of support from Amelia Stansell of the Center District.
“Brian is a very responsible business owner with a well-established track record of service to our community,” Stansell said. She said there are no meeting and event venues in the county’s northern end.
Mirah Horowitz, executive director of Lucky Dog Rescue, said her organization has held fundraisers at Barrel Oak Wintery though it’s based in Arlington.
Roeder has been “generous with his space and in his support,” Horowitz said. She said a lodge would provide a place to stay for those coming from longer distances.
John R. Sprieser, co-owner of an equestrian boarding and training business, however, wrote to the county that the lodge proposal “makes a mockery” of the agricultural designation of the land.
Gretchen Yahn of Hume wrote, “No doubt, the county needs more places for lodging, etc. but the single-lane Grove Road with its limited ingress-egress accessibility … pinpoints that this is not the correct place.”
Dr. and Mrs. Dennis Sherman of Upperville wrote, “If major exceptions are granted, why have these zoning regulations to begin with?”
Matthew Sheedy spoke of “this growing affront to the quiet enjoyment of our homes and the commercial monetization of our beautiful RA-zoned countryside.”
A letter from Citizens for Fauquier County states that “by placing labels like ‘lodge,’ ‘lodge/resort’ and ‘country inn’ on the proposed hotel with restaurant, the applicant is plainly attempting to circumvent the prohibition under the zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan of such commercial enterprises in our rural agriculture districts.”
Reach James Ivancic at email@example.com