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March 14, 2017

Old Town B & B proposal public hearing tonight

File Photo/Lawrence Emerson
John McAuliff has removed public events from his special use permit application for Chilton House.
Public Hearing
• Topic: Proposed special permit for four-bedroom bed and breakfast at 97 Culpeper St., Warrenton

• When: Tuesday, March 14.

• Where: Town Hall, 18 Court St.

• Owner: Trust of Beatrice M. McDonnell.

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

• Agency: Warrenton Town Council

• Planning commission action: On Feb. 21, the advisory panel recommended approval of the application by a 5 to 2 vote.

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By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
Warrenton’s town council Tuesday night will conduct a public hearing on a proposed bed and breakfast in Old Town.

The March 14 hearing will take place at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.

The town planning commission on Tuesday, Feb. 21, recommended approval of John McAuliff’s special permit application to operate a four-bedroom inn at his family’s home at 97 Culpeper St.

Five planning commissioners backed the project and two — Vice Chairman John Kip and Ali Zarabi — voted against it.

Twelve citizens — six in support and six against the application — spoke during the planning commission hearing.

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

• Generate enough income to keep and preserve the property, which lies within Warrenton’s historic district. Chilton House has been in the family since 1890. 

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

• Help expand Warrenton’s commercial tax base.

“I believe in doing things the right way, not just for me and my family, but for the whole town,” Mr. McAuliff told the planning commission.

Town council approval would allow him to build “partnerships with historic organizations, restaurants, wineries and all the businesses in town,” said Mr. McAuliff, who owns a media consulting firm. “It gives folks something to point to that shows we’re an inviting, welcoming place to spend a weekend.”

Mr. McAuliff and his supporters believe bed and breakfast guests would support the Warrenton and area economy by patronizing local businesses.

Culpeper Street neighbors who live near Chilton House worry 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 also have expressed concerns about noise, parking and traffic related to the proposed use.

While Mr. McAuliff no longer wishes to hold public “events” at Chilton House — as initially proposed — he wants the ability to have small, private gatherings for family and friends there.

Because of zoning ordinance confusion about the definition of an “event,” the planning commission recommended a condition that would allow Mr. McAuliff to have such get-togethers, provided no money gets exchanged between the parties and no more than 30 people attend them at one time.

Mr. Kip, a planning commissioner, said he didn’t object to the use, but voted against the application because of the unresolved “discrepancy” over the definition of an “event.”

The town council during a March 9 work session discussed a revised condition that would:

• Limit to 10 the number of people who at one time could visit guests staying at the bed and breakfast.

• Require Mr. McAuliff to give the 60 days’ notice to the town before holding a private event. Any such event would require the town manager’s approval. No more than 30 people could attend such an activity.

“We’re confident” the town council will approve the application, Mr. McAuliff said Tuesday. “We have talked to folks, and we think everybody’s pretty much on board.”

If the council approves the use, he hopes to begin operating the bed and breakfast in mid- to late summer.
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