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January 11, 2019

Supervisors OK 24-bed addiction recovery center

Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Former pro basketball player Chris Herren, a recovering addict, tells the supervisors Thursday night that the idea of bringing his recovery program to Fauquier “came about because of the student response” to his middle and high school presentations here.
Photo/Lawrence Emerson
Daniela Bushara says she and her husband welcome the center but want PATH to put the property on conservation easement to prevent commercial expansion in the area.
The special exception permit will allow up to 24 clients to stay at Twin Oaks, off Route 17 about 2-1/2 miles north of Warrenton. Airlie formerly owned the house, used to host wedding receptions and other events.
They’re here for the long haul. They’re going to make sure this works out.
— Supervisor Chris Granger
Public Hearing
• Topic:  Special exception permit to establish a 24-bed residential addiction recovery center on 50 acres at 6791 James Madison Highway (Route 17) just north of Warrenton.

• When: 7:12 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10.

• Agency: Fauquier County Board of Supervisors.

Length: About 40 minutes.

• Speakers: 14, with nine supporting the project and five voicing concerns about a commercial use in a rural area, impacts on drinking water supplies, traffic and lighting.

• Action: Board voted, 5-0, to approve the application.

• Where: Warren Green Building, 10 Hotel St., Warrenton

• Applicant: Warrenton-based PATH Foundation.

• Property owners: Mark S. and Angela S. Smith.

• Zoning: Rural, with a small amount of village fronting James Madison Highway.

• Details: The PATH Foundation and Massachusetts-based Herren Wellness Group plan to establish a residential “spiritual wellness” center on the property to treat up to 24 recovering drug addicts and alcoholics. The “private-pay” retreat model uses meditation, yoga, mindfulness, reiki, exercise and group and individual coaching to provide residents with skills “necessary to return to a drug- and alcohol-free full and productive life.” It would employ 12 full- and eight part-time or contract workers.

• Next: PATH will need special exception permit approval from the board to enlarge the property’s drainfield system to accommodate to 24 residents and staff. That will require a public hearing before the planning commission and the board, which has final authority.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
As expected, Fauquier’s board of supervisors Thursday gave the go-ahead to a proposed residential addiction recovery center just north of Warrenton.

After a 40-minute public hearing, the board unanimously approved the PATH Foundation’s special exception permit application to establish the 24-bed, “private-pay” Herren Wellness Retreat at Twin Oaks on 50 acres off James Madison Highway (Route 17).

The residential treatment center would be the first of its in Fauquier.

Fourteen people spoke during hearing, with nine supporting the project and five voicing various concerns related to its potentially negative effects on the rural area.

Employing 12-full and eight part-time or contract workers, the center will use the main house — a 2-1/2-story, 11,700-square-foot stucco structure — and a 760-square-foot stucco home on the property. The site also includes an in-ground pool, a tennis court, a barn and various outbuildings.

Three PATH representatives and Herren Wellness Group founder Chris Herren spoke in support of the project.

The center “would provide local access to residential recovery, which speaks to two of our four focus areas — access to care and mental health,” PATH Foundation CEO Christy Connolly told the supervisors.

Since its inception five years ago, PATH has “invested nearly $2.5 million in (local) programs and services to address mental health alone,” Ms. Connolly said.

PATH’s association with Mr. Herren, a recovering addict, began in 2017 when the organization brought the former NBA guard to Fauquier, Culpeper and Rappahannock to speak to students about his drug addiction and recovery.

“The idea of bringing Herren Wellness to Fauquier County came about because of the student response” to his middle and high school presentations, said Mr. Herren, who operates an addiction recovery retreat in Seekonk, Mass. “I can’t tell you many students of this county reached out to me and said, ‘I wish my mom, I wish my dad could hear you speak. I wish they had a place to recover close by’.”

Ms. Connolly, other PATH staff members and Mental Health Association of Fauquier County Executive Director Sallie Morgan last summer visited the Herren Wellness Center in New England.

“We were very impressed with the program there and started talking about possibilities within our community,” Ms. Connolly told the supervisors.

Like the Herren center in Massachusetts, the planned Fauquier retreat would use meditation, yoga, mindfulness, reiki, exercise and group and individual coaching to provide residents with skills “necessary to return to a drug- and alcohol-free full and productive life,” according to the special exception application.

Ms. Connolly called the planned Herren retreat “an important part of the puzzle for mental health solutions.”

And though “not the only solution . . . it’s one of many that we are supporting and will support in the future,” she added.

Daniela and Leon Bushara, who own the 128-acre Loretta that adjoins the planned retreat site, don’t object to the project.

But the family worries about commercial uses of rural land in the area, Mrs. Bushara told the supervisors.

“Perhaps our gravest concern is with the potential long-term impacts of this special exception,” she said. “To protect the area from longer term degradation, we believe the PATH Foundation should donate a conservation easement to the county to ensure Twin Oaks is not the first step in the permanent establishment of commercial activities in the heart of a conservation area.”

Her family has placed their farm under a conservation easement, Mrs. Bushara said.

As did others Thursday night, she also expressed misgivings about the retreat’s potential impacts on the Warrenton Reservoir, which provides the town much of its drinking water, screening and traffic.

One nearby landowner, who “generally” backs the project, asked the board consider the effects any additional lighting related to the retreat would affect area residents.

Another raised speed concerns along that portion of Route 17.

The property’s drainfield can handle no more than 18 people, according to the county. To accommodate the 24 residents and retreat staff, PATH will need special exception permit approval by the board of supervisors to expand the wastewater treatment system.

Supervisor Chris Granger, whose Center District includes the retreat site, remains confident the special exception permit conditions plus efforts by PATH, Mr. Herren and local recovery groups will address most of the neighbors’ concerns.

“They’re here for the long haul,” Mr. Granger said of the participants. “They’re going to make sure this works out.”

PATH has a contract to buy the proposed wellness retreat site from Angela S. and Mark S. Smith, who live there and rent eight of Twin Oaks Historic Manor House’s bedrooms on Airbnb

For tax purposes, Fauquier County values the property at $1.9 million. The Smiths bought it in May 2017 from Airlie Foundation for $1.1 million.

No closing date has been set for the property’s sale to PATH, according to Ms. Smith.

Supervisors Rick Gerhardt (Cedar Run District) and Mary Leigh McDaniel (Marshall) serve on PATH’s 15-member board of directors. Mr. Gerhardt and Ms. McDaniel voted to approve the special exception permit after the county attorney determined they, under state law, have no conflict of interest because the PATH directors serve as volunteers.

Contact Don Del Rosso at or 540-270-0300.

Wellness Retreat at Twin Oa... by on Scribd

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