Tent-sized ‘Conference/Resort Center’ proposed near Flint Hill

A proposed “Conference/Resort Center” to be located on Alnell Farm between Flint Hill and Huntly was considered by the Rappahannock County Planning Commission last evening shortly after the Rappahannock News went to press.

Applicants Susan Kummli and Stephanie Gorham, who are applying for a special zoning exception to allow for the center, are also requesting a special use permit to operate a tourist home on the same 432-acre farm.

“The proposed use relates to the hosting of up to four events between the months of April and November of each year, with a maximum attendance of 200 guests per event,” attorney Michael T. Brown, of the Washington law office of Walker Jones, PC, informs county administrator Debbie Keyser, who also handles zoning applications.

“Accommodations for these events would be located in a tent to be situated immediately west of the cottage on the property,” says Brown. “The easement providing access to the event location crosses the adjoining property, and for that reason we have included Windsor Lodge Stables, LLC, and its property as a co-applicant in this respect.”

Brown foresees that events would consist of “weddings and wedding receptions, business retreats for companies, private parties and family reunions.”

As for parking, it is planned for designated areas also located on Alnell Farm. For each event, portable toilets would be in place based upon the number of attendees.

In addition, all food and beverages served in connection with the events would be provided through “outside caterers” and not by the applicants.

According to Brown, the “applicants intend to use and promote local restaurants and caterers for this purpose.”

Entrance into the property would be provided directly off Route 637, a short distance from US Highway 522.

Brown says approximately six houses are passed from the intersection with 522 and the entrance into the property. But the “very limited number of events and short distance from Zachary Taylor Highway [522] therefore minimize any traffic impact or hazard,” he insists.

At least one adjacent property owner isn’t so sure.

Deryn Semmes Winchester, owner and general manager of the Indian Run Farm of Rappahannock County, LLC, tells the Rappahannock County Board of Supervisors in writing that he is “disappointed to find that the future use of this property is intended to be a conference center.”

“When Fred Kummli first came to Rappahannock County, he let it be known that he did have intentions to develop his land,” Semmes Winchester recalls. “Over the years he became involved with the local farming community and the fox hunters. In these relationships he came to understand the beauty of open rural land and the quiet of the country that you cannot find in many places so close to Washington, D.C.

“In later years he let it be known to my father, David H. Semmes, that he would not develop his farm.”

It should be pointed out that no overnight accommodations would be provided in connection with the conference/resort center use. The special use permit application for the tourist home relates to an existing log cabin structure that could accommodate four overnight guests.

A minimum of two public hearings will be held on the applications, considered first last night by the planning commission which were to be forwarded with a recommendation to the board of supervisors.

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