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Lindley Estes is a business writer for The Free Lance-Star and This blog is on Fredericksburg-area business. Send an e-mail to Lindley Estes.

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Silver Cos. planning small resort in Caroline

Here is a rendering of the lodge that the Silver Cos. wants to build off U.S. 17 in Caroline County for corporate retreats and other special events. Click for a larger view.

The Silver Cos. wants to build a small, high-end resort on land the company’s CEO owns off the south side of U.S. 17 in Caroline County.

The proposed facility would be built within a 1,209-acre property that Larry Silver has owned for nearly a decade. The land, which isn’t far from the Spotsylvania County line, is adjacent to Fort A.P. Hill and the historic Moss Neck Manor.

Plans for the facility call for a 12-room lodge with a dining area, conference and meeting spaces, and other amenities, said Silver Cos. principal Jud Honaker. Additional cottages could be built to provide more lodging. The main lodge would be about 7,100 feet off U.S. 17.

Silver Cos. officials envision that the facility could be used for corporate retreats and other special events for up to about 40 people. There would be recreational activities including hunting and clay pigeon shooting, as well as fishing, canoeing and swimming on a lake that is part of the property.

Honaker said the Silver Cos. is also working on a separate application to allow Waldorf, Md.-based Chaney Enterprises to mine sand and gravel on a portion of the property near U.S. 17. The mining would ultimately create reclamation lakes that could be incorporated into the water recreational activities offered at the lodge.

This Google map provides a rough idea of where the property is located. Click for a larger view.

The Silver Cos. is working with Caroline officials on the approval process. Caroline would first need to pass a text amendment that would allow special exception permits to be issued for resorts in areas zoned rural preservation, and Silver would then apply for the permit.

The text amendment will be before Caroline’s Planning Commission soon, and the Board of Supervisors will later take up the matter.

Honaker said his company would start developing the facility soon after receiving approval. He said Larry Silver has long wanted to build that type of corporate retreat, and recently gave company officials the go-ahead to get started. This summer, Honaker said, about 660 cedar, walnut and cherry trees were cut down on the property to be used to construct the lodge.

Honaker thinks the facility would create significant tax revenue for the county and perhaps help recruit companies to the region. Silver executive Scott Little, who was formerly general manager at the renowned Inn at Little Washington, has been guiding the conceptual plans. Silver frequently sells its projects after they’re developed, but Honaker said the company plans to own and operate the lodge itself.

Not everyone is thrilled with the idea. Gil Shelton, who owns the adjacent 280-acre Moss Neck Manor property with his wife, Judy, said there are many questions that still need to be answered about the text amendment that Caroline is working on. Shelton and other nearby landowners have opposed mining projects in that area.

Shelton also said in an email that he and his wife own the trademark rights for the name “Moss Neck,” which means the name can’t be used for any commercial purpose without their approval.

Honaker said his team hasn’t come up with a name for the facility yet.

The land that Larry Silver owns was recently the subject of a lawsuit that was settled late last year. It involved a lawsuit that Silver filed against the Virginia Outdoors Foundation and The Conservation Fund over a proposed 300-acre easement on the property that was never completed. The easement would have been part of the Army Compatible Use Buffer Program surrounding Fort A.P. Hill.

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