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February 27, 2019

Farm supply center planned in Upperville business park

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Southern States would lease part of the 8.7-acre Upperville Village Business Center from Shelby Bonnie, who bought the commercial property in November 2010.
We’re still working out the details. But, we’d like to open in March or April. For us, that’s Christmas.
— Allen Taylor, Southern States manager
Public Hearing
• Topic: Special permit for for Southern States farm store in Upperville.

• When: 2 p.m. Thursday, March 7.

• Where: John Barton Payne Building, 2 Courthouse Square, Warrenton.

• Agency: Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals.

• Applicant: Upperville Business Park LLC (Shelby Bonnie).

• Site: 8.7 acres with commercial village zoning at 9183-9193 John S. Mosby Highway.

• Details: Southern States Co-op store in Front Royal would open branch, along with a farmers’ market and classroom space, this spring.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Editor
If it wins zoning approval next week, a Southern States farm supply store could open in Upperville this spring.

“I can’t think of a better use for the property . . . . It speaks to the soul and spirit of the community,” said Shelby Bonnie, who owns the 8.7-acre Upperville Village Business Center along John S. Mosby Highway and lives nearby.

He paid $1.79 million for the property in the historic Northern Fauquier village more than eight years ago, in part “to keep it becoming something like a Sheetz” convenience store, Mr. Bonnie said in a phone interview Monday night.

Talking with farmers and other rural landowners in the area last fall, the desire for a farm supply store repeatedly emerged, he said.

By then, customers knew the small Southern States in Middleburg would get merged into a new Purcellville store. The Middleburg outlet closed in December.

Directors of the locally-owned Southern States Cooperative in Front Royal and their manager, Allen Taylor, embraced the idea of establishing a branch in Upperville. The planning started soon after Mr. Bonnie first met with them in November.

“It’s super exciting,” said Mr. Taylor, who has managed the Front Royal store for 16 years. He has 23 years with Southern States, after earning an animal science degree from Michigan State University and managing Angus cattle operations for 13 years.

“We’re still working out the details,” he said. “But, we’d like to open in March or April. For us, that’s Christmas” because of spring planting, gardening and landscaping.

The plan calls for the member-owned operation to lease existing buildings, primarily on the eastern half of the business park.

The Upperville business would feature a farmers’ market and space for seminars — unique to Southern States, as far as Mr. Taylor, 56, knows.

Mr. Bonnie “was persistent,” the store manager added. “He wanted a farm supply store, but he also wanted something more.”

The property owner said: “Farming is very important in our part of the county. And, you have a lot of people who are new to farming and big pieces of property.”

The application he filed with the county — for a special permit from Fauquier’s board of zoning appeals — anticipates as many as 160 customers a day. The Front Royal store already sends a truck to the Upperville area, about 23 miles away, for deliveries twice a week.

More than 60 people attended a “meet and greet” that Southern States hosted Jan. 23 on the site.

“We had tremendous turnout . . . with so many farmers, landowners and townspeople in attendance, giving us encouragement and recommendations on what they need,” said Upperville cattleman Jerry Crenshaw, who helped connect the parties.

The property has nine buildings totaling 50,000 square feet, including a brick structure close to the road that would serve as the office and sales center, with an adjacent outdoor garden product display. Other buildings would warehouse big items. The farm center would sell hay, straw and bulk products, such as mulch, and would fill propane tanks up to 100 gallons, according to the application.

Decades ago, the property housed Northern Counties Lumber Inc., which sold panelized buildings and truss systems. In recent years, other tenants have operated there, including landscaping businesses and a stone retailer.

A vehicle repair and restoration business, Downey’s Vintage Garage and a contractor will continue to operate in the business park.

If the Fauquier County Board of Zoning Appeals grants the special permit March 7, Mr. Taylor will need to move quickly to hire about a half-dozen employees for Upperville and set up the operation.

“My initial concern is connectivity, internet,” he said of a common challenge in rural Fauquier.

Contact Lou Emerson at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or 540-270-1845.






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nonewtaxes · February 27, 2019 at 10:01 pm
160 customers per day? Thats a lot of traffic. Dont know how it fits in with the community. Aint really a business district. Next thing you know vdot will be putting in traffic lights. rte 50 will be under construction for 5 years to make a proper ingress/egress. IF the store couldn't survive in Middleburg what would allow it to survive in Upperville? That 10 minute drive surely didnt kill the middleburg store.
Mike M · February 27, 2019 at 3:15 pm
This is a great use of the property. It fits in with the community and fills a need in this part of the county. The Front Royal Southern States is an excellent outfit to go in there. They are very responsible and have many area customers already.
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