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City Council OKs events at Braehead

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Fredericksburg City Council on Tuesday night unanimously approved a request from the owners of Braehead Manor to operate an outdoor venue for events such as weddings.

Four members of the public expressed their support for the project, including neighbor David Eadie, who said he and his wife, Doris, had toured the bed-and-breakfast and were impressed with it.

“I think it’s a great place to have these events,” Eadie said. “My wife and I are fully in favor of it.”

Braehead Manor is a Greek Gothic Revival-style home built in 1859 that sits within the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee ate breakfast there on the first morning of the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Owners Robert and Diana Almy made extensive renovations to the home at 123 Lee Drive before opening it as a bed-and-breakfast in September. The couple now plans to hold weddings and related events on their property, which totals 28 acres.

On a motion from member Kerry Devine, the council on Tuesday approved an amendment to a special-use permit to operate an outdoor event venue with parking on a parcel in the 400 block of Central Road, which adjoins the Lee Drive site.

City staff and the Planning Commission had recommend the permit be approved for just two years but the council removed that condition, agreeing with speakers who said that would have severely impacted the owners’ ability to plan weddings.

Councilman Fred Howe commended the Almys for the extensive work they’ve done to renovate the structure and the many steps they’ve taken to get approval for holding events there.

Indoor events will be limited to 30 people and outdoor ones to 200 people. The permit restricts the use of amplified speakers and the number of events per weekend.

Speakers cannot be used after 10 p.m. and would need to be placed behind the B&B and face the Battlefield Industrial Park to minimize the impact on the park.

They could hold one outdoor event with multiple functions between Friday and Sunday. Examples would be a family reunion or rehearsal dinner, wedding and reception.

Attorney Charlie Payne, representing the Almys, told the council during Tuesday’s public hearing that the facility will increase tourism for the city and expects to generate $500,000 in revenue annually. He also noted that most of the 200 people attending an event at Braehead Manor would be staying in local hotels since the bed-and-breakfast has limited room for overnight guests.

Also on Tuesday, City Council unanimously approved a request from Lincoln Terminal Co. to convert the Quarles Petroleum site into a storage and distribution facility for gas, biodiesel and ethanol.

During a public hearing before the vote, two people expressed concerns about the proposal, including former Councilman Hashmel Turner.

However, Councilwoman Bea Paolucci said each of his concerns had been addressed during the review process. Those concerns included safety and evacuation procedures. Paolucci noted that the fire department and fire marshal are satisfied with safety plans in place and have said no one evacuation plan can satisfy all scenarios.

Quarles Petroleum operates a propane distribution facility on 10.2 acres at 1500 Beulah Salisbury Road off Dixon Street.

The company plans to sell the property to Lincoln Terminal and move its operation across the street to the 2.47-acre site where Service Tire Truck Center now operates. That property is in neighboring Spotsylvania County.

The Planning Commission voted in support of the amendment at its Dec. 11 meeting after allowing time for residents of the Mayfield community to have their safety and traffic concerns addressed.

The site is along the Rappahannock River beside Dixon Park and across the street from Mayfield.

Lincoln Terminal, owned by Lincoln Energy Solutions Inc. of Greenville, S.C., plans to invest $7 million to convert the Quarles site, including installing six additional tanks and adding landscaping.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972