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Posted March 16, 2011 | comments 3 Comments

Retreat area plans put on hold for now

Concerns raised by residents delay center project temporarily

By M.K. Luther-mkluther@nvdaily.com

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.

3 Comments | Leave a comment

    Aura imaging and photography??? The underlying real world physics (which makes copy machines possible) was explored as early as 1777.

    Who among us believes worshiping copy machines will cure your ills? Have we got a deal for you !

    I like your article and would like to offer some comments. The name "Retreat Center" is somewhat misleading and it has stimulated all manner of concerns. Altogether an enlightening experience. One that I would term as providing "good manure for the soul". Initially, my application to the Planning Commision was for the category of a "Lodge" for guests & members of Avalonia. However, it is now a Spiritual Mini Retreat.

    People within our neighborhood perceive the Avalonia Mini Retreat as a big business that will create a lot of disturbance and whatever else since there is a website attracting internet traffic to the area with all its evils ...In fact, at most there will only be 1 extra car per day. And from time to time a maximum number of 6 people might stay overnight in a tipi or a yurt when the weather is good, to read and sleep with their spiritual work. They might stay for 2 or 3 nights or just 1 and, it is to be only once a month during late spring, summer & early Fall.

    As explained many times, no advertising, no posters and no signs because they are clients of mine who seek private and quiet time.
    They are professional people who hold responsible positions in society.

    As for visibility, the tipis and yurts would be close to our house and not visible by any one on neither Twin Run Estates nor Howelsville Heights. The house closest to the Tipi / Yurt is 862 ft away. (As per GPS measure) So, 862 ft away the bible or other holy scriptures are being read and debated. As for property taxes? This is privately owned land and we pay our property taxes and taxes in general. Naturally, we pay our dues toward road maintenance and would not wish to add further stress and expense to that either.

    Avillion as a Non Profit, tax exempt organization cannot start a commercial business but is permitted, by the IRS and the State of Virginia to fund raise for the services it provides. Additionally, our own personal use of this private road is minimal in comparison with normal family activities. . We are elderly and do not need to take children to their varying appointments. Nor do we hold many social events and our own family members live far away. Therefore, the extra traffic would be no more than that generated by our neighbors present day family activities. Also, my work takes me on many weekend trips and at such time no clients would be coming to Avalonia but the Caretaker at the house uses the road on our behalf. This property is never left alone.

    The "Rev" makes some valid points. While I don't live in this district, I can understand some of the residents concerns, although, I don't necessarily agree with them. Possibly the objections and misunderstandings stem from from the unknown factor. Whenever you combine the words religion-retreat-center-spiritual-holisitic and the obscurity of the word "Yurt", it conjures up negative perceptions of what will actually happen on site. Anytime someone proposes something "out of the box", especially in a small community, there is the propensity to quickly judge.

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