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March 15, 2017

Council OKs Culpeper St. bed and breakfast, 4-1

Photo/Chilton House
The town council granted Chilton House a special use permit to operate four guest rooms.
A vote for this . . . is a vote for historical preservation, for business and for Warrenton’s future.
— John McAuliff, applicant
Public Hearing
• Topic: Special use permit for proposed four-bedroom bed and breakfast at 97 Culpeper St., Warrenton

• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 14.

• Where: Town Hall, 18 Court St.

• Agency: Town council.

• Owner: Trust of Beatrice M. McDonnell

• Action:
By 4-1 vote, the town council approved the application.

• Applicant: John McAuliff, grandson of the late Mrs. McDonnell

• Website:
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Warrenton soon will get its first bed and breakfast inn.

The town council Tuesday night granted John McAuliff a special permit to operate a four-bedroom inn at his family’s house at 97 Culpeper St.

Mr. McAuliff hopes to open the bed and breakfast at Chilton House in mid- to late summer.

After about a 40-minute public hearing, the town council voted, 4-1, to approve his application.

Skeptical of the proposal’s business model and economic development potential, Councilman Alec P. Burnett (Ward 2) opposed the project.

Councilmen Brett A. Hamby (Ward 3) and Sean Polster (At-large), both career firefighters, missed Tuesday’s council meeting because of this week’s storm.

Zoned residential, the 0.91-acre lot lies within the town’s historic district.

The Chilton House has been in Mr. McAuliff’s family since 1890.

He and his family believe a bed and breakfast would be an unobtrusive way for them to:

• Generate enough income to keep and preserve the historic property.

• Give Old Town its first inn, providing overnight accommodations within easy walking distance of Main Street.

• Help expand Warrenton’s commercial tax base.

“A vote for this . . . is a vote for historical preservation, for business, and for Warrenton’s future,” Mr. McAuliff told the council.

Culpeper Street neighbors who live near Chilton House fear that a bed and breakfast could pave the way for others who may want to make commercial use of their homes, which could negatively affect property values. 

They have expressed concerns about noise, parking and traffic related to the proposed use.

Neighbors also objected to Mr. McAuliff’s initial intention to hold “events,” including wedding receptions, at the home.

A condition of the special permit addresses that concern.

“There shall be no events,” the condition states. “Events are gatherings open to the public, or for exchange of funds and/or services. No event or gathering shall occur that would not naturally occur in” the residential district.

Eleven people — including the applicant and his representative — spoke in support of the proposal during the pubic hearing. Three spoke against it and one Culpeper Street resident described himself as "neutral" on the matter.

Councilwoman Linda “Sunny” Reynolds (At-large) recalled a recent meeting with Mr. McAuliff at Chilton House, during which she put him on notice.

Should Mr. McAuliff violate any aspect of the special permit, Ms. Reynolds said she told him: ‘ “You will be shut down in a heartbeat. Do you understand this’?”

He did, the councilwoman said.
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