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January 3, 2017

Events dropped from B&B proposed in Old Town

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
After a Dec. 5 meeting with neighbors, John McAuliff removed a plan to host events for up to 250 people from his application.
I don’t mean to be a snob, but Culpeper street is an interesting street. It should be preserved for the benefit of Warrenton.
— Walt Hitchcock, Culpeper Street resident
Public Hearing
• Topic: Proposed four-bedroom bed and breakfast at 97 Culpeper St., Warrenton

• When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17

• Where: Town Hall, 18 Court St.

• Agency: Warrenton Planning Commission

• Owner: Trust of Beatrice M. McDonnell

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

• Next: The planning commission will make a recommendation on special permit application to the town council, potentially for a February public hearing and final action.

• Website:

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Staff Journalist
Facing tough neighborhood opposition, a Warrenton entrepreneur has scrapped plans to hold events for up to 250 people at his family’s Old Town home.

But, John McAuliff still seeks special permit approval from the Warrenton Town Council to operate a four-bedroom bed and breakfast in the so-called Chilton House at 97 Culpeper St.

> Map at bottom of story

Warrenton’s planning commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, in Town Hall.

The Federal-style home — portions of which date to 1820 — stands on 0.9 acre within the Warrenton Historic District.

Mr. McAuliff held a meeting Monday, Dec. 5, at the St. James Episcopal Church parish hall to discuss the project with neighbors. The church rectory stands next to the proposed bed and breakfast site.

More than 18 people attended the hour-long meeting, where many expressed concerns about noise and parking, he said.

About a day after the meeting, he decided to remove events from the application, said Mr. McAuliff, who owns a media consulting firm.

“I said I would be open to reviewing the events component,” he said in an interview. “I didn’t want this to be steamrolled. I’m not a developer. I wanted to do this the right way.”

The idea for a bed and breakfast and events venue stemmed from a conversation his family had about commercial uses of the home that would be compatible with the neighborhood and produce enough income to maintain the property, according to Mr. McAuliff.

Walt and Josine Hitchcock, who live a couple doors away from Mr. McAuliff, attended the Dec. 5 meeting.

While Mr. Hitchcock called the applicant’s decision to drop events “a start,” the couple believes a bed and breakfast could lead to commercial uses of other old homes along Culpeper Street.

“I don’t mean to be a snob, but Culpeper street is an interesting street,” Mr. Hitchcock said. “It should be preserved for the benefit of Warrenton.”

Town council approval of the project would “allow all these old homes to be commercial,” Mrs. Hitchcock said. “Why not use the Mosby House as a bed and breakfast?”

The Hitchcocks moved to Culpeper Street in 1976.

Mr. McAuliff disagrees that approval of his bed and breakfast application will spur other commercial uses of Culpeper Street homes. If he succeeds, the Old Town market would be unable to support another bed and breakfast, he suggested.

He also noted that the town council has the ability to deny future special permit applications to convert Culpeper Street homes for commercial uses.

W. Hunt Cheatwood lives at 86 Culpeper St., catty-corner from the proposed bed and breakfast.

“I think it’s good,” said Mr. Cheatwood, who also the neighborhood meeting. “I don’t see anything wrong with the bed and breakfast. As long as it’s legal, I don’t have any objection.”

A former Warrenton Planning Commission member for 35 years, he recalled that two or three Culpeper Street bed and breakfasts had been proposed during his tenure on the advisory panel.

“None of them got through the planning commission,” said Mr. Cheatwood, who retired from the panel in 2014. “I guess it was something that wasn’t wanted.”

While he wishes Mr. McAuliff well, the application has a “35 percent” of getting approved, Mr. Cheatwood said.

“A lot of people aren’t going to be as lenient as I am,” the 41-year Culpeper Street resident said.

The planning commission serves as an advisory panel to the town council. After the Jan. 17 public hearing, the commission could recommend the application to the council for a February public hearing and final action.

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fpharris1 · January 8, 2017 at 9:30 am
Why NOT use the Mosby House as a bed and breakfast? At least it could be put to productive use at potentially no cost to the town. What better way to introduce or host visitors to our town and still be within walking distance of shops and restaurants?
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