‘Drastic departure’

This is a defining moment in the history of Rappahannock County.

On Monday, June 5, the Board of Supervisors will be considering an Application for a Special Use Exemption to allow the Thornton Hill property to hold for its private profit in perpetuity 30 per year “self-governed” music and other festivals, fairs, camping (including RVs), hunting, fire pits, weddings, and so on, half of which would be for crowds of between 500 to 8,000 people at a time, for one day or more.

These events, for weather-related reasons, would in fact be potentially held every summer weekend. I and other neighboring abutting and non-abutting landowners consider this to be a drastic departure from what has helped protect the historic, scenic, agricultural and environmental richness of Rappahannock County for generations.

This unwelcome application would pose severe risks of course to the safety, quality of life, and property values of surrounding residents. You can imagine the issues of litter, smoke from fire pits, bright lights at night, loud music, porta-johns, trash clean-up and disposal, “disposal of carcasses” (referred to exactly that way in the Application), degradation of the stream which runs through the property and into the property of adjoining landowners, and so on.

The issue of traffic on Rte 522 and in and out of Sperryville and Woodville will be critical. It is not clear that the Sheriff’s Office or who would have the mandate to address traffic and safety concerns. It is not clear how emergency services could be provided while servicing the residents of the county.

And finally there appears to be no existing ordinance which authorizes a rezoning of the scope and duration requested. Approval of this request would set a dangerous precedent for any future Special Exemption Permit.


James Buss

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