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By Sean Tubbs
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
A proposal to build a historical center at President Theodore Roosevelt’s rural Albemarle
retreat near Keene has cleared its first step in county government.
The county Planning Commission
recommended approval Tuesday of a special use permit allowing for construction of a small museum and restroom facility at Pine Knot.
|Beazley addresses the Albemarle Planning Commission
is a rustic cottage nestled in the middle of southern Albemarle,” said Paula Pierce Beazley, president and chair of the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Foundation.
Edith Roosevelt selected the spot as a getaway for the 26th president of the United States.
“He needed a place for rest and repairs within a day’s trip of Washington, yet remote enough and deep within the woods so as to leave his presidential cares behind,” Beazley said.
Pine Knot is currently not recognized as a historical center under the zoning code.
“They’re looking to bring the use of the site as a historical center with special events into compliance with our zoning ordinance,” county planner Andy Sorrell said. “The events would promote the mission of the historical center.”
| Source: Albemarle County
The new museum would be built at quite a distance from the cottage itself, which is in the middle of the 90-acre property. There is no electricity and no running water at the site, and foundation officials intend to keep it that way.
The foundation will need to get permission from the Virginia Department of Health to build a composting toilet to replace a portable one that is currently on site.
“We’d like to make it something that’s not a horrible experience,” Beazley said.
Sorrell recommended approval of the site plan and zoning modification.
“Staff finds their conceptual site plan sufficient for the proposed improvements and use and does not have issue with the small amount of additional square footage that has been requested,” Sorrell said.
However, Sorrell said, one nearby property owner expressed concern about the dust that would be generated by traffic traveling down the gravel road.
That prompted Commissioner Richard Randolph
to suggest that the foundation obtain email addresses of all neighbors so alerts could be sent out to warn of upcoming special events.
Don Woodsmall, a member of the Pine Knot
board, asked that the county not add Randolph’s requirement.
“This is truly a historical treasure for the county,” Woodsmall said.
Randolph defended his suggestion.
“My goal was not to create interference,” Randolph said. “We are looking at application after application in the rural area where people have moved out to enjoy the bucolic setting and traffic which is more urban nature is coming out into that area.”
The commission did not include Randolph's suggestion.
If approved by the Albemarle Board of Supervisors, Beazley said the toilet would be first, followed by the museum building.