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December 15, 2017

County to buy property that houses drug treatment

File Photo/Cassandra Brown
County officials plan to demolish the building at 30 John Marshall St. for expanded parking. Eventually, government might build new offices there.
My goal is not to get rid of McShin. My goal is to respond what I’ve already heard from neighboring businesses and to respond to the addiction treatment need in the community.
— Supervisor Chris Granger
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Staff Journalist
In a surprise move Thursday, Fauquier’s board of supervisors agreed to buy a downtown Warrenton building where a nonprofit foundation hopes to open a 14-bed addiction recovery center.

The board will pay $650,000 for the three-story structure at 30 John Marshall St. and an adjacent parking lot from Mill Ponds Investment LLC owner Matt Iten. The property totals almost half an acre.

Fauquier expects to close the deal within 45 days, County Administrator Paul McCulla said.

County government has identified no specific uses for the John Marshall Street building, Mr. McCulla said.

Because it would cost about $1 million to remodel 4,410-square-foot structure, Fauquier probably will bulldoze the structure and redevelop the site for much-needed parking spaces, Mr. McCulla said.

As a long-term investment, the property could be redeveloped for office space to ensure that “core” county government services remain in town, he explained.

The McShin Foundation of Richmond seeks special permit approval from the Town of Warrenton to operate a 28-day, overnight program to serve eight male and six female recovering addicts.

In November, Warrenton’s planning commission voted, 4-1, to recommend approval of the application to the town council, which has final authority.

Thirty-five spoke during the planning commission’s public hearing on the application; 27 supported and eight opposed it.

The council could conduct a Jan. 9 public hearing on the application.

Fauquier opposes using the John Marshall Street building for an overnight addiction recovery center because it considers the facility inappropriate to an area dominated by “day businesses” and devoid of residential uses.

“The county will not do anything to support the (special use permit), nor sign the application, if it’s required to,” Mr. McCulla said.

However, the county will help create a “working group” to include representatives of the Town of Warrenton, McShin, PATH Foundation, Rappahannock-Rapidan Community Services and the sheriff’s office to “explore appropriate locations for recovery treatment facilities,” he said.

Supervisor Chris Granger believes the community has better locations for a residential treatment center.

“My goal is not to get rid of McShin,” Mr. Granger said. “My goal is to respond what I’ve already heard from neighboring businesses and to respond to the addiction treatment need in the community.”

McShin intended to buy the 30 John Marshall St. property but only after getting special permit approval, President John Shinholser said Thursday afternoon.

Told of the county’s impending purchase of the Marshall Street building and commitment to help find better site for an overnight addiction recovery facility, Mr. Shinholser said: “I don’t mind collaboration to get another location, but the last thing I want is them telling us how to heal families and save lives.

“I haven’t got time for people to die.”

McShin and other groups in September began providing free counseling at the John Marshall Street building.

The property's Central Business District zoning allows that use of the structure "by-right."

McShin has spent more than $30,000 to improve the structure, Mr. Shinholser estimated.

If the nonprofit leaves the building when the lease expires in July, he believes it should be reimbursed for that amount.

“Somebody should give us the money we got in it.”

In April, Fauquier County’s jail — with the help of McShin — started a “peer-to-peer” counseling program for inmate addicts.  

Periodically for about two years, Mr. McCulla and Mr. Iten, who couldn’t be reached for comment, have discussed the possibility of Fauquier buying the 30 John Marshall St. property.

The county will honor the terms of Mr. Iten’s lease with McShin, allowing the organization to rent the three-story building through next May, the county administrator said.

By then, Mr. McCulla hopes the working group will have identified a suitable location for an overnight recovery addiction center.

Fauquier has leased the small parking lot adjacent to that property for 15 years from the previous owner and now Mr. Iten. The county pays $500 per month to use it.

The county paid Mr. Iten’s Mill Pond Investments LLC $415,000 for the building site and $235,000 the adjoining parking lot parcel.

Founded in 2004, McShin, operates an apartment building and group homes with 170 beds for recovering addicts in and around Richmond. 

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Patricia Smith · December 21, 2017 at 9:57 am
During their incarceration, men and women in the detention center (FADC) attend McShin peer-to-peer classes each morning (drug rehab education), AA, church services and Celebrate Recovery (faith-based 12 step program) throughout the week. Many have attended faithfully for months, preparing for the time they will be released.

My husband and I are volunteer chaplains in the jail (FADC). We know first hand where the men/women go to live after they have been released; the Jefferson, the Rip (50.00/night or 30.00/night/week - they barely make that on their job @7.25/hr.) or the toxic environment they came from. Some are fortunate to have family waiting to offer their support but many are destitute. So isn’t it urgently important and our moral responsibility as the town/county, to create the next step; affordable, sober living homes for these folks; to support them further in their efforts to live a productive chemical free life? Let’s stop the studies, meetings, commissions, talks,etc. and get something done PLEASE. This can be done with the McShin Program and Oxford Houses, not parking lots! Pat Smith
Rover 530 · December 18, 2017 at 10:50 am
The county and town governments are in the same game but using two different playbooks. There is a liaison committee made up of county and town supervisors/council members. Why can't it help solve this issue?
Jim Griffin · December 16, 2017 at 11:53 am
As I wrote elsewhere on land use, if we are capitalists we leave this decision to money capital. If we are socialists, we leave this decision to the community. If we are communists, the government purchases, owns and operates the land in question.

In some places, if the market adjudges demand a greater supply of parking, private enterprise buys the land and makes it a parking lot. That's capitalism.

This is one of those unique places that has government deciding and acting in place of the market while preaching the virtues of capitalism and ignoring them just the same. Say one thing, do another. The market had an idea for this land but government substituted its judgment for Mr. Market.
Freedom warrior · December 15, 2017 at 9:19 am
Much needed parking spaces??? I challenge everyone to drive by the parking lot that the County leases next to this building and do your own tally. There are ALWAYS empty spaces there, and that has been the case for years - and on the weekdays, during business hours no less.

This sounds more like the County bailing the Town out of a jam of their own making. And to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars of taxpayer dollars. What a joke.
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