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February 13, 2020 · OPINION

“Sanctuary” would extend Fauquier agritourism sector

Contributed Photo
Sanctuary at Barrel Oak conceptual illustration.
By Brian Roeder

I am writing to thank my neighbors for their support for my proposal for the Sanctuary at Barrel Oak resort.

The Sanctuary will be a premiere Fauquier destination allowing overnight visitors to enjoy the quiet and immersive beauty of our community. The Sanctuary will also be focused upon directing our guests to the Fauquier trails, parks, wineries, breweries and surrounding businesses of Marshall and The Plains, Paris, Upperville and Warrenton that derive a significant amount of their visitations and revenues from agritourism.

Our high-quality farm lodging option will be minimally impactful. Few locations are as well-situated as ours. The proposed resort offers a total of 170 private acres with excellent and immediate Interstate 66 access, significant privacy screening, significant setbacks from neighboring residences and property lines, excellent and responsive management and a proven decade-long track record of engagement in — and respect for — the surrounding neighborhood and community by the owner/operator.

I believe in farming the land to serve both my family and my community. I am grateful to own a farm and I feel that I have an obligation to be a responsible steward of the land. The privilege of owning a farm carries the obligation to work as hard as I can to make that land productive and to not allow it to lie fallow.

My vineyard is an expression of my values. Traditional agriculture is back-breaking work, which is risky at best and ruinous at worst. Purchasing and living on the land requires either great wealth, multigenerational unencumbered ownership or the ability to operate a farm that is focused upon agritourism as a means to survive. And in Fauquier, new farms are agritourism farms.

When I purchased my land here in 2006 in order to become a farmer, I was not rich. But I had a plan to farm and produce a finished product that I could sell to the public. That product is wine, made from our 30 acres of vineyards and sold as part and parcel of a unique Fauquier experience that we wholeheartedly share with our guests.

My goals for The Sanctuary are the same: provide a retreat for guests who seek and who need to connect with the land, with our farm and with rescued animals. With great wisdom, Fauquier County’s leaders have allowed a very few resorts to open and operate as a way to connect the land to providing hospitality to visitors. In that tradition, I seek to operate a resort on my property which will be a beautiful asset for our community.

The Sanctuary at Barrel Oak will build upon the idea of sharing “The Authentic Fauquier Experience” and will provide a desirable and attractive lodging experience for the visiting guests of our community’s residents. The Sanctuary at Barrel Oak will strengthen our local business and farming communities by pushing significant agritourism revenues into our local economy, providing for dozens of good-paying jobs, and creating significant direct and associated indirect tax revenue — especially if the county approves an overnight accommodation tax.

I will not appear before the Board of Supervisors on Feb. 13 to request the approval of a special exception granting us the right to submit plans for our proposed resort. There are not enough votes to win an approval. I hope that our community will continue to show its support for our proposal. More information and details can be found at

The writer is The Sanctuary at Barrel Oak applicant and Barrel Oak Winery owner.
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martinkus · February 20, 2020 at 1:52 pm
Jim Griffin: I left the Republican Party with the rise of Trump, who is now the American Hitler. I respect your viewpoint on the conservation easements but have little respect for the local Republican Party and their antics.
Jim Griffin · February 19, 2020 at 6:08 pm
martinkus: Actually, we don't disagree about the goal. I support land preservation. I would not sell my land to a developer; I'd sell it to a family committed to using it as we have.

The question is how best to attain land preservation, and are we consistent in its pursuit?

Personally, I have less problem with the hand of government. The Virginia Republican Creed, however, is clear:

Virginia Republican Creed: We believe that the free enterprise system is the most productive supplier of human needs and economic justice

As a result, I ask: Is trusting the individual and individual rights in a free market the best approach? Or is it to empower, fund and trust the hand of government?

Wouldn't a Virginia Republican naturally oppose the latter in favor of the former?

Is it any surprise that government is undoing conservation easements around the country, deciding they want to develop the land that was to be preserved?
martinkus · February 19, 2020 at 3:55 pm

Hopefully, the BOS will "smarten up" and see what a positive addition "The Sanctuary" would be for the county. Yet, there are "forces" within Fauquier that still "influence" the BOS, and sometimes negatively.

Jim Griffin: We have been down this road before - no need to bring up old dirt. We simply disagree with one another on land preservation and that is fine. As you know, the county taxes its citizens on a large number of line items. I have no interest in arguing with you over the land easement issue. I don't mind paying a "small pittance" for preservation...perhaps you do!
brianroeder · February 17, 2020 at 6:23 am
I do appreciate both Jim & Martin's support along with so many others - indeed the vast majority of those who have weighed in on this issue. I have never asserted that i should have an unmitigated right to do as i wish with my land. I accept as reasonable, the review of my plans by county authorities.

The S.E. process is a reasonable requirement for a zoning overlay such as my own.

All of that said, a small and well-organized group of influential and wealthy individuals, many who do not make Fauquier their primary residence, many who receive significant tax relief for cutting grass and running horses, continue to exert undue influence over the S.E. decision process. As long as that is the case, our county's opportunities will be limited, tax rates will increase, businesses will struggle, farmers will sell to developers, mansions will spread across the land, inequality will increase, visitors will overnight and spend their dollars elsewehere, and the popular will of residents will be thwarted.

The Sanctuary is a well thought-out and perfectly situated opportunity which will help our local businesses, farmers, and workers. It lacks majority support on the Board of Supervisors because it is strongly opposed by my own supervisor who cares very much about the views of the aforementioned group of individuals. Oh well.
Jim Griffin · February 16, 2020 at 8:07 pm
martinkus: With all respect, it is not voluntary: the taxes used to acquire the land are not voluntary to pay, nor are the collective effects of the planning, which include higher taxes for all.

There should be freedom for all within Fauquier County to decide for themselves how they wish to use or dispose of their property. If the new owner of Buckland Farm wants to add a winery, let them. Likewise, I trust Mr. Roeder to use his land as he thinks best.

As for Loudoun, much of it is different altogether, containing as it does Dulles Airport and a run of the Metro line. If Middleburg is exemplary of Loudoun I am hard-pressed to find your complaint.
martinkus · February 16, 2020 at 6:51 pm
For those of you who admire Loudoun County's massive growth and destruction, please feel free to relocate at your earliest convenience. Also, Fauquier County's land preservation program is purely OPTIONAL. No land owner has a proverbial gun to his/her head demanding an easement. Finally, I support Mr. Roeder's proposal for "The Sanctuary at Barrel Oak." Agritourism is a win for Fauquier!
Jim Griffin · February 16, 2020 at 6:45 pm
Central planning is exactly what it appears to be: The social state over individual rights. You either trust the free market and the individual or you don't.

People in Fauquier talk a good game about conservatism and Republican philosophy, but they don't practice what they preach when it comes to land. The best description of what we do is either socialism or communism. We take the most precious commodity we have, the means of our production -- our land -- and assign its development rights to a central committee.

This now totals a quarter of our land and climbing. It's sheer hypocrisy.
PabloCruz · February 16, 2020 at 5:01 pm
The Fauquier land preservation movement is generally based in the desire to preserve a certain way of life, and to manipulate government policy to accomplish that goal. That way of life includes among other things, equestrian sports and fox hunting, which require large swaths of land. For example, a typical fox hunt will cross multiple properties, and that requires that the property owners be amenable to these activities occurring on their property. Placing large tracts of land into permanent easement ensures the availability of such lands for said activities. Easements and the like are often sold to the regular folks as a means to keep development and taxes down; and Loudoun County is often cited as an example of what could go wrong, or what Fauquier could turn into. But left out of the discussion is the fact that demand is what has driven Loudoun's development. Simple economics dictates this. So, despite the high development rate and taxes, people still want to live in Loudoun, because in their cost-benefit analysis, what Loudoun has to offer is worth it. Loudoun has lots of high-paying jobs, lots of housing being built, and lots of amenities. I'm not saying this is right or wrong, just pointing out that people want what Loudoun has to offer, as evidenced by the population growth. Fauquier County has simply been influenced to legislate to the values of a small number of residents, and imposed those values on the rest of us.
Jim Griffin · February 16, 2020 at 3:15 pm
People have the right to use their land as they wish. It's the conservative way, right? Small government? Let the market decide, eh? Keep the hand of the state out of private business, isn't that what we hear?

Anything else is hypocrisy from so-called Republicans and "conservatives."

We live in a county where a quarter of the property rights are transferred to a central committee. Literally, the means of production in the hand of the state ... how can this be considered conservative? Icing on the cake:

We pay for it thrice through our taxes: 1, When the land is acquired with a tax money; 2, When we absorb the tax hit; 3, When we abandon to other counties the business that would use the land.
brianroeder · February 15, 2020 at 12:46 pm
Folks can get a lot more information about the short-sighted costs of Kevin Ramundo's approach here:
brianroeder · February 15, 2020 at 12:41 pm
Kevin - there has been no shift. All of those are reasons why The Sanctuary makes sense and is needed. Most people in this community get that even if you and your peers do not.

As long as you and your crowd run the county we can be certain that Fauquier will languish, farmers will leave the land, big houses will be built on big lots, tax rates will increase, income inequality will increase, we will continue to become a bedroom community, the rich will treat our community like their private HOA, and business will suffer. Next up you guys are going after Blackthorne. Your fear is palpable. Oh well, whatever.
KRamundo · February 15, 2020 at 12:35 pm
Mr. Roeder is right. There were not enough votes among the supervisors to approve his project, and I would add, that there are numerous reasons why the project does not make sense. Over the last nine months, the rationale he has emphasized in support of his project has shifted from the need for overnight accommodations in the northern section of the county, to the need for a high-end resort, and now, that the county needs to take corrective action to support agriculture and agritourism, and that approval of his project is part of the solution.

In the interest of much-needed transparency about this project, I am a co-founder of the Fauquier Countryside Preservation Group which was formed to oppose this project because it violates the county's comprehensive and rural lands plan, both of which have been key to the county's success and well-managed growth. We count among our members many residents of the county including those who live close to the location of Mr. Roeder's proposed project and strongly oppose it.
LindaW · February 13, 2020 at 3:50 pm
I hadn't heard that about Buckland Market, it would be an absolutely terrible shame to lose them. They already had to uproot once and then built the lovely current structure. I typically stop twice a week and nearly every time there is someone shopping who is not from our area, asking lots of questions and filling their basket. I thought that was what Fauquier wanted? I love the idea of the Sanctuary. It seems no matter how many people object to more housing, even with zoning changes to accommodate higher density, such as at Broad Run Church & Riley in New Baltimore, they are approved anyway. Yet lovely venues such as this to bring in visitors and desperately needed revenue are shot down. Big ugly data centers get approved...even though they don't seem to fit the bill for rural and agricultural.
brianroeder · February 13, 2020 at 6:58 am
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