Clarke County nixes Georgetown’s proposed Contemplative Center
The sun sets on Georgetown’s Blue Ridge Mountain dreams…
Remember the proposed “Contemplative Center” in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Northern Virginia that was supposed to serve as a home to Campus Ministry programs like ESCAPE? Well, Georgetown won’t be breaking ground any time soon, thanks to the Clarke County Board of Supervisors.
Four years after buying the land, Georgetown’s request for a special-use permit, which would have allowed the project to move forward, was shot down by the Board at their meeting yesterday.
Although the University made concessions to local preservationists, agreeing to preserve the “Hohenheim House,” a 19th century, Gothic Revival farm house on the property, county officials still rejected the proposal, citing concerns about the center inviting too much residential development of the area.
The Winchester Star reports:
In a written statement, Supervisor Barbara Byrd insisted the SUP would be a “dangerous precedent” because it violated the county’s Comprehensive Plan and would “erode” its zoning code …
Byrd insisted the facility, with a dining hall, community room, several cabins, and a chapel was “not a school or a place of worship. It’s an in-house conference center,” such as the county turned down when the idea was advanced by the Salvation Army several years ago.
Although it’s not completely clear what the University’s plans for the center are going forward (University spokesperson Andy Pino wrote in an email, “Once we’ve evaluated all of our options, we’ll determine what our next steps will be.”), a quote from University Architect Alan Brangman in the Star‘s article makes it seem like this is the end for the Blue Ridge Mountain site:
After the vote, H. Alan Brangman, architect for Georgetown University, said the vote concluded what had been a six-year search by the school for a place for its retreat center. The university’s goal is still the same, he said.
“If we can’t do it here, we will have to put it somewhere else. If at first you don’t succeed…” he said.
Photo from Flickr user ehpien, used under a Creative Commons license.