Everyone agrees on one thing, that Lynn Pirozzoli has turned her Black Horse Inn just outside Warrenton into a lovely lodging worthy of the horse country it celebrates.
What people disagree about is the kind of celebrating that should be permitted, and where, on the grounds of the renovated bed-and-breakfast on Meetze Road, which once did business as the Rosemont Inn and now plays host to dozens of wedding receptions and other parties.
Large neighborhood contingents from both sides of the dispute showed up at a public hearing Thursday before the Fauquier County Planning Commission. After all the talking was done, the issue was tabled until next month.
Pirozzoli and her supporters claim that the complaints of a few disgruntled neighbors could threaten the inn's future and make life miserable for the soon-to-be newlyweds who already have planned their nuptials or receptions there. But several individuals spoke on behalf of the neighbors, Roberta Wagner and Bruce Bugbee, who have become miserable themselves because of raucous wedding parties that take place in a tent that has sprung up on a newly built patio 125 feet from their property.
Meanwhile, the Planning Commission expressed concern that Pirozzoli was not abiding by the conditions of a special exception permit, granted last year, that limits the types of events at the inn.
"When what was proposed doesn't happen, then it throws the whole process into disrepute," said commission Chairman Harry Atherton (Marshall).
Pirozzoli bought the property in 1993 and by her estimation has poured "hundreds of thousands of dollars" into renovations and other improvements. What she didn't do, according to a staff report from the county Department of Community Development, was obtain the proper permits for several new structures.
When she applied last year for her special exception request, a sketch she submitted to the Planning Commission showed a "covered deck" on the northeast part of the site some distance from the Wagner-Bugbee property. But Pirozzoli later changed her plans and moved the patio, where the wedding receptions are held, to its current site, a stone's throw from the Wagner-Bugbee property.
Pirozzoli told the Planning Commission that she changed her plans with no ill intent. And anyway, said her attorney, Merle Fallon, "nowhere in the [special] exception does it limit wedding receptions to any part of their property."
This is a matter of dispute, because the county zoning office determined Pirozzoli was violating the permit conditions. At Thursday's meeting, Pirozzoli was seeking an amendment to the permit that would allow the wedding parties to continue on the patio, though Fallon said she had not given up her claim that her current activities are lawful.
Meanwhile, Wagner testified that she and her husband had been "misled" by Pirozzoli's earlier plans to have the party site farther away. She said their country living was being disrupted by the noise and bustle of the weekend parties, which they can't help hearing. "You retreat to the house, and the noise pulses through the walls," Wagner said. "We feel imprisoned."
Pirozzoli has offered to plant trees as a sound buffer. But that might not mollify her neighbors, whose attorney, Dan O'Connell, observed that the buffer plan was submitted formally to county planners only two hours before hearing.