Last Tuesday, the Clarke County Board of Supervisors voted to allow the University to move forward with its plans to build a retreat center in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The settlement reached between the Board and the University comes with significant restrictions, however.
As per the agreement, the Center will be restricted to seven acres of the 55-acre site. Additionally, the Board placed limits on the number of occupants allowed at the Center and the number of vehicle trips allowed to the site annually.
The decision came after more than a year of legal and political wrangling between the Board and the University. After the Board voted to reject Georgetown’s application for a special use permit in May 2009, the University responded by filing a civil complaint against the decision in the Clarke County Circuit Court.
At the time, the University asserted, “The Center would have minimal impact on the surrounding community, and on public infrastructure and services…Georgetown has also expended significant funds in pursuit of the Application which have effectively gone to waste because of the Board’s decision.”
The threat of looming litigation spurred the Board to rethink its decision in last week’s 3-2 vote.
“I am concerned we would lost in court,” Vice Chairman David Weiss said, according to the Northern Virginia Daily.
Weiss, who cast the deciding vote, claimed that the settlement agreement was “the best way out of a bad problem.”
Moving forward, the University plans to construct five buildings on the site, including a dining hall, chapel, and caretaker’s residence. The construction costs will be funded by a $10 million donation made by Arthur Calcagnini Jr. (COL ‘54). When completed, the Center will house spiritual retreats and Campus Ministry programs, such as ESCAPE.
Photo from Flickr user brokersaunders used under a Creative Commons license.