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July 21, 2016

B&B and events venue proposed in Old Town

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
“The point is not to make money, but to support the house, to keep the house,” John McAuliff says of his family’s proposal for 97 Culpeper St. in Warrenton.
The 1-1/2-acre property stretches from Culpeper to Green Street.
I’m very concerned, because this is a classical, historic street. I don’t mean to be a snob, but that’s the way it is.
— Walt Hitchcock, Culpeper Street resident
Chilton House Proposal
• What: Events “venue,” bed and breakfast

• Where: 97 Culpeper St., Warrenton

• Owner: Trust of Beatrice M. McDonnell

• Applicant: John McAuliff, grandson of Mrs. McDonnell

• Details: Events, including weddings, small meetings, receptions and holiday parties for 20 to 250 people; up to five bed and breakfast bedrooms, four in so-called Chilton House, one in outbuilding on property

• Event hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday

• Next: The Warrenton Planning Commission will consider the rezoning and special use permit applications, perhaps as soon as Aug. 16.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
They hope to turn the Federal-style home on Warrenton’s Culpeper Street into a bed and breakfast and a place for receptions, conferences and parties.

John McAuliff, 24, and his family regard the proposal as a way to generate income to preserve the historic property, provide Old Town its first inn and reception “venue” within walking distance of Main Street and expand the commercial tax base.

“It’s not cheap keeping up a house like this,” Mr. McAulliff said of the so-called Chilton House, a portion of which dates to 1820.

The house at 97 Culpeper St. has been in the family since 1890. It lies within the Warrenton Historic District.

The proposal would require a special use permit and rezoning approval by the town. The applicant wants the 0.9-acre parcel rezoned from Residential-6 to Commercial Business District. The adjacent St. James Episcopal Church rectory has Commercial Business District zoning.

His family’s vacant, residentially zoned 0.5-acre parcel, extending to Green Street behind the Chilton House property, would handle larger events as needed, Mr. McAuliff said.

Warrenton lawyer James Downey, who represents the family, filed the special permit and rezoning application with the town this week.

> Application at bottom of story

The proposal calls for an unspecified number of receptions and events ranging from 20 to 250 people. The largest events typically would be limited to outdoor wedding receptions, Mr. McAuliff said.

Three recently-renovated rooms in the house could handle smaller events — for up to 100 people.

“There’s not really a number,” Mr. McAuliff said of events he has in mind. “We’re not sure what kind of market there will be.”

Over time, he hopes to book two weddings a weekend, 20 to 30 weekends per year.

Events would take place from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday to Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, according to the application.

The proposal includes 3-by-2-foot sign and non-amplified “moderate festive music . . . . Very little sound will be heard beyond the property boundaries.”

Under the proposal, up to four rooms in the home would be used for bridal parties and bed and breakfast guests. A remodeled outbuilding could be converted into a fifth bed and breakfast room.

Two parking spaces for employees and five parking spaces for guests would be provided on the Chilton House property; additional parking for events would be available at the nearby county lot on Lee Street, Mr. McAuliff said.

Meals prepared on-site for inn guests would be limited to continental breakfast, Mr. McAuliff said. “We want to push people to restaurants.”

Three years ago, his family began discussing potential commercial uses of the home that would be compatible with the neighborhood and produce enough income to maintain the property.

“The point is not to make money, but to support the house, to keep the house,” Mr. McAuliff said.

A bed and breakfast and an events “venue” seemed appropriate, said Mr. McAuliff, who owns a media consulting firm. “We really want it to fit the character of the street, which is a residential area.”

Warrenton’s review process will include public hearings before the planning commission and town council. Mr. McAuliff hopes the planning commission will hold a public hearing Aug. 16.

The commission serves as an advisory panel to the town council, which will decide whether to approve the project.

“We’ve talked to just about everyone on Culpeper Street,” Mr. McAuliff said. “We haven’t encountered any major opposition, and don’t expect to.”

Neighbors he has spoken with include Walt Hitchcock, who lives two doors down from Chilton House.

Mr. Hitchock, who moved to 127 Culpeper St. in 1976, said he worries about the project’s potential parking and traffic impacts.

“I’m very concerned, because this is a classical, historic street,” he said. “I don’t mean to be a snob, but that’s the way it is . . . . I’m just concerned about the character of the whole area.”

Mr. McAuliff said he remains open to discussing any concerns that neighbors may have about the project.

“I’m still talking to folks,” he said. “It’s still early. It’s not going to happen overnight.”



SUP Application Chilton House by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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spiffingfolk · July 28, 2016 at 3:37 pm
I think the issue is more about size and scale. A nice B&B with 6-12 guests and an occasional party would be good for the town. But they're not asking for that. They propose an "Inn and Events Center" that would host events of up to 250 people. Those 250 people will want to drink, eat and dance on site so there will have to be room for catering trucks, entertainment, and serving staff too. St James next door also has 'events' like weddings, funerals and services and their school is busy. On the weekends, cars are parked all along Culpeper Street and the parking lots are full.

Add to that the opening of the new Brewery and Claire's, also just across the street, and you have to find a place for cars for 300+ people all within several hundred feet. Given that the town merchants were against taking 3-6 parking spaces for parklets, I can't see that filling of all the city lots with reception guests is going to be a good thing for downtown.
martinkus · July 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm
If the church next door has commercial business zoning, why then can't this property owner request the same? And I quote from the aticle:

"The proposal would require a special use permit and rezoning approval by the town. The applicant wants the 0.9-acre parcel rezoned from Residential-6 to Commercial Business District. The adjacent St. James Episcopal Church rectory has Commercial Business District zoning."

Sounds like NIMBYs on Culpeper Street, as Mr. Hitchcock indirectly suggested!
Rover 530 · July 21, 2016 at 10:04 pm
The Town of Warrenton will have to make its own judgement on the merits of this proposal. However, if the stated reason to convert to a B&B and event center is to "...support the house, to keep the house", because the "...family regard the proposal as a way to generate income to preserve the historic property". If an owning family cannot afford to keep their property, wouldn't they sell it to someone who can?
martinkus · July 21, 2016 at 3:58 pm
Great idea...I hope the Town approves it!
Silii · July 21, 2016 at 3:25 pm
This is exactly what Warrenton needs. Historic houses/B&B's attract a lot of business. And, walking distance to Main St is icing on the cake.
TooTrue · July 21, 2016 at 9:41 am
Good Luck John. Hopefully this attorney can get the job done for you.
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