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Concerns raised by residents delay center project temporarily
By M.K. Lutherfirstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- Plans for a retreat center in the Shenandoah District will be temporarily delayed after residents renewed their concerns at a Tuesday public hearing.
The Rev. Ingrid Jolly-Trayfors and Miles McCord requested a conditional-use permit to run a nature retreat center at their 28-acre property at 114 Kendall Court.
The property is currently zoned agricultural.
The Warren County Board of Supervisors tabled the request until its April 19 regular meeting after hearing from several neighbors and area residents, all of whom were opposed to the project moving forward.
The proposed Avalonia Nature Retreat would be operated in phases, offering services such as aura imaging, photography and lifestyle coaching.
The initial stage of the project calls for retreat visitors to use the natural environment, including trails and rock gardens.
The second and third stages would include overnight stays for a maximum of six guests, the use of tipis and yirts and the eventual construction of "an all season gazebo" for larger gatherings.
The Warren County Planning Commission in February had recommended approval of the permit for the first and second stages only.
On Tuesday, the applicants requested the supervisors approve all three stages, giving a presentation addressing lingering concerns and citing the submission of numerous letters of support for the project.
Residents of the adjacent Howellsville Heights Circle and adjoining neighborhoods said allowing a commercial business to be run in the mountain subdivision would destroy its rural character.
Neighbors were also worried that retreat center guests might also be disturbed by risk of the neighborhood's usual recreational, hunting and ATV activities.
Residents also questioned the loss of real estate tax revenue because Jolly-Trayfors' corporation, Avillion, has nonprofit status.
Lisa Buchanan, a Howellsville Heights Circle resident, said neighbors were not opposed to the center's spiritual practices, but did not want a potentially expanding business to be located in their community.
"Our concerns come from expanding this commercial business to see more clients and hosting them in temporary shelters for days at a time," Buchanan said.
The increased traffic flow also could present challenges and raise residents' cost for the privately maintained sections of the rural roads, according to speakers.
"One of the reasons we and our neighbors moved out of the city was to get away from large volume traffic and population areas," Buchanan said.
Supervisor Tony Carter recommended further review of the application to weigh the
concerns and need of both the residents and the applicant.
"We have got to protect everyone's rights here," Carter said.