Town okays new rooms at The Inn

The Washington Town Council voted Monday night (Sept. 10) to approve a special use permit allowing the conversion of the Clopton House – the newest part of the Inn at Little Washington – into a six-bedroom hotel.

The Inn’s Eddie Fletcher, acting as agent on behalf of the owners, told the council he believed converting the Main Street property into a hotel was a good decision. “There’s plenty of room for enhancement,” Fletcher said when called before the council members. “I think it’ll be a good addition to the town.”

That sentiment was shared by members of the public who were in attendance. After Mayor John Sullivan opened the matter to the public, several people spoke up to say they were, as one of them put it, “glad the property is going to be put to good use.” Clopton House has been empty for more than two years.

Sullivan pointed out that this was the second hotel permit to come before the council (the other being last month, on behalf of new owners of the former Heritage House B&B) and that, as with the now six-room Heritage House, residential management would be necessary.

“Not that you need someone living there full-time, but you need to make sure the guests’ needs can be met,” Sullivan said.

Fletcher assured the council that would not be a problem, but did not provide a concrete opening date for the new facility. Afterwards the council members voted 4-0. Council member Patrick O’Connell, proprietor of the Inn, recused himself from the vote, while members Mary Ann Kuhn and Daniel Spethmann were absent.

The council then began to discuss its adoption of the town’s new comprehensive plan, which has to be revised and amended every five years. The comprehensive plan is designed to guide the development of an area – it is not a law but guides development and amendments to the town’s zoning-related ordinances. The new plan focuses on the “Village Core Area,” and attempts to balance the need for new development with preserving the “the historic form and character of the core of Washington.”

Mayor Sullivan thanked the members of the Planning Commission for “all their hard work” in drafting and revising the new comprehensive plan. The council then took a vote and, by a 4-0 decision, to adopt it.

Sullivan also touched briefly on the town’s recent failure to acquire a hoped-for $400,000 grant from U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The funds would have been used to purchase a 9.1-acre tract at the Warren Avenue entrance to town envisioned as part of a 22-acre, village-based natural forest and wetland area.

Sullivan pointed out that none of the jurisdictions that received USFS Community Forest grants were in Virginia, and speculated the recipients were most likely dealing with much larger acreage than Washington intends to purchase.

Nevertheless, Sullivan said he intends to pursue other methods to achieve the goal. “This idea is simply too good to give up on,” he said.