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January 21, 2020 · OPINION

Sanctuary at Barrel Oak good for preservation, economy

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The proposed resort would stand just east of the Barrel Oak Winery.
By Bert van Gils

I write in support of the Sanctuary at Barrel Oak proposal, which will be voted upon by the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors on February 13th.

The Sanctuary at Barrel Oak proposal is facing bitter and overwhelming opposition from entrenched interest groups. On the one hand are a grab-bag of complaints about potential impacts wedded to opposition against any economic development located outside of a service district. Such views were expressed throughout the debate over the 2013 Fauquier winery ordinance.

The result of that law was to stymie the ongoing expansion in the number of wineries in Fauquier and with it, the expansion of economically viable vineyards on small lot farmlands with their accompanying jobs and retail sales tax payments into county coffers. As a result of the winery ordinance, Fauquier will soon have fewer wineries than it did in 2012, while Loudoun will have twice as many wineries as it did since that same time. Fauquier’s winery ordinance, for all its sound and fury, remains on the books as a deterrent to further vineyard investments in Fauquier’s farmland.

This is why the proposed resort in Delaplane is timely and necessary. The Sanctuary at Barrel Oak will strengthen our local business and farming communities. It will push significant agritourism revenues into our local economy, providing for dozens of good-paying jobs and creating significant direct and associated tax revenue — especially if the county approves an overnight accommodation tax. To separate economic viability from the concept of rural character is short sighted and, in fact, endangers the natural beauty of Fauquier in the longer term.

I support the approval of this special exception request, and I plan to be at the hearing in support of a yes vote. I encourage others to join me!

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