The location of the proposed Humblestone Inn was incorrectly reported in an article in Thursday's Loudoun Extra. The proposed inn is at 7476 Cannonball Gate Rd., near Warrenton, in the Marshall District. (Published 01/23/2000)

The Fauquier County Board of Supervisors approved a special exception permit Tuesday for an arts retreat and inn off Route 17 in the northern end of the county that neighbors opposed earlier when the project's scope was more expansive.

Through negotiation and circumstance, however, several neighbors who previously opposed the inn and its developer, Jenifer O. Trovato, appeared at a public hearing preceding the vote to lend cautious support.

"It sounds wonderful," said Joan Hellandsjo, who owns property near the proposed inn. "Thank you for working with us on the special exception."

Hellandsjo was among dozens of neighbors who initially signed petitions and worked to derail the development. But Trovato said her business partner became ill, and, in the face of opposition, she agreed to scale back her original plan to host arts festivals and outdoor weddings.

The unanimous vote will allow Trovato to turn the 18th-century stone house at 7476 Cannonball Gate Rd., just west of Route 17 near Marshall, into the Humblestone Inn, an art gallery and bed-and-breakfast for 12 people.

"As a writer and an artist myself, I knew this was a perfect place for myself and for others to find their own creativity," Trovato told the board about her choice of the site.

At several points in the discussion, speakers and supervisors alluded to the still-simmering dispute surrounding the Black Horse Inn, at 8393 Meetze Rd., just outside Warrenton. County staff members and neighbors believe that the owner of the Black Horse, Lynn A. Pirozzoli, is defying her special exception permit by holding outdoor receptions on a patio built too close to her neighbors' property.

Pirozzoli contends that she is the target of unfair enforcement of county zoning laws.

The resolution of the Black Horse issue was postponed again, this time until the board's Feb. 22 meeting. Eliciting laughs from the crowd, Supervisor Joe Winkelmann (R-Center) asked Trovato whether she would be interested in "some property on Meetze Road."

In other business, the board took public comments on a report of the citizen-led Capital Improvements Plan Committee, which recommends how much the county should budget for big-ticket items such as new schools and libraries.

The committee recommended $6.99 million in spending for the 2001 fiscal year, with $3.5 million of that going toward three new sports field complexes in the north, south and central regions of the county.

Only two speakers addressed the committee's recommendations. One was Sue Scheer, a local activist and environmentalist, who criticized continuing to budget money for the controversial Auburn Dam. The committee recommended no new funding, but the fund for the project has $2.2 million allocated by previous boards. The dam would provide flood control and a water supply for New Baltimore residents.

"The dam is not needed, and the public doesn't want it," she said.

The other speaker was Kitty P. Smith, field officer for the Piedmont Environmental Council, who criticized the way some expensive projects have been taken out of the committee process. She cited a new radio system for the Sheriff's Department that county officials now estimate will cost as much as $12 million and that she said was not the subject of the committee's deliberations.

"I have no idea where the county is going to come up with $8 to $12 million," she said.

The supervisors postponed action on the committee's recommendations until budget discussions begin in earnest next month.

CAPTION: Supervisor Joe Winkelmann, seen here in 1998, drew laughs at Tuesday's board meeting as discussion of the Black Horse Inn issue was postponed.