Panel backs Va. 55 events center proposal

FRONT ROYAL – Owners of a historic house in Warren County passed the first hurdle to turn the property into an events center.

The Planning Commission voted Wednesday to recommend that the Board of Supervisors approve a request by Benjamin McMahon to add “agricultural events center” to the list of uses allowed in the agricultural zoning district by a conditional-use permit. The commission also recommended that supervisors approve McMahon’s request for a conditional-use permit that would allow him to use the property, known as the Mint House, at 4918 and 4920 Strasburg Road (Va. 55).

The matter goes to the Board of Supervisors, which then must hold a public hearing on the requests before it considers action.

County Planner Matt Wendling said Thursday the applicant provided a business plan as recommended by the commission. The applicant also removed music festival as a potential event the center could hold after some residents raised concerns about the noise it might create.

Parking for the facility remains a concern. Wendling said that a short-term solution to the parking has been identified. Dulles Industries, which lies adjacent to the Mint House property, has offered the use of its parking lot of more than 80 spaces to the event center, Wendling said. A pathway between the two properties would allow a shuttle to take visitors from the parking lot to the center. Officials with Virginia Department of Transportation have expressed concerns about the entrance and exit for the events center. The shuttle system would help keep visitors from having to use the highway to enter and exit the center. Wendling reiterated that this agreement is tentative and would be a temporary arrangement.

However, another issue about the request came up for the first time Wednesday — the prohibition of fireworks.

“That came up as a last-minute concern of the public,” Wendling said. “We had gotten some phone calls.”

The fireworks concern was not mentioned during the public hearing held on McMahon’s request in May, Wendling said. The commission did not include any conditions related to fireworks set off on the events-center property in its recommendation. Supervisors can consider restrictions on fireworks when they take up the requests.

Also at the meeting, the commission forwarded the following items to the Board of Supervisors with recommendations for approval:

  • A request by Brian and Shannon McGann for a conditional-use permit for private-use camping on property on Farms Riverview Road in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision
  • A request by Avinash Patwardhan for a conditional-use permit to run a private school for yoga instruction at 380 Honey Farm Lane in the Shenandoah Farms subdivision
  • A request by the commission to change the county code section on variances to adopt new standards set out in the Virginia code

The commission also gave administrative approval for a site plan presented by Toray Plastics (America) Inc. Toray plans to construct a new, 11,000-square-foot building on its site at 500 Toray Drive.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com