In addition to discussing the proposed ADAMS Mosque, Mar. 10, the Nokesville Civic Association heard from the owner of the Effingham Manor Winery and neighbors who opposed it coming into their community.
The Effingham Manor house is a historic estate,, which dates back to the mid-1700s, located off Aden Road in Nokesville. Chris Pearmund, owner of Pearmund Cellars, Vint Hill Winery and an investor in various other regional wineries, recently purchased the property and has begun renovations.
Pearmund hopes to open Effingham Manor a winery for tasting and selling and also feature a small reception hall for weddings and other events for under 150 people. He also plans to grow grapes and sell wine on the property.
The use of the land for a farm winery within agriculturally zoned areas is “by-right,” in Virginia, in accordance with a set of farm winery bills passed between 2006 and 2014.
However, Pearmund still requires a Special Use Permit (SUP) to restore the historic manor house, which requires approval from the Prince William County Board of County Supervisors.
An estimated 35-40 residents living around Alexander Lakes, who were in opposition to the Effingham Manor Winery for its proximity to their homes, attended the meeting.
Alexander Lakes is an HOA development for large homes on mainly 10-acre lots. The development surrounds the manor house, which concerned some residents.
Residents shared their various concerns with Pearmund and the NCA group, chief among them was the issue of drinking and driving. One man, who recited statistics about drinking and intoxication, was worried that people will buy bottles and consume them on the property before driving.
Others worried about visitors becoming disorderly.
A resident said he has witnessed a person getting drunk at a winery to the point where he or she vomited on the road.
Pearmund said he has never witnessed that kind of behavior at any of his wineries. He said people visit wineries to experience agricultural education; it is not a “frat house.”
However, Pearmund said people will be drinking at picnic tables on the property and exploring the grounds outside.
Residents also said they do not want the lights, the noise or the wear and tear on the roads.; they pointed out that the neighborhood does not even have sidewalks.
As for knowledge of the manor house’s previous SUP, residents said they were not informed of it when they moved in; rather, they were under the understanding that the manor was subject to HOA restrictions.
Realtor Scott Jacobs encouraged residents to look at the positives.
“I think this is going to be a huge success. I think you are going to be the hottest subdivision in the Nokesville area….It’s a hidden gem that has been underutilized and certainly under appreciated,” he said.
It was a message the audience refused to entertain.
“You don’t live there! You’re pissing me off!” yelled one woman.
Jacobs told the attendees he is not an investor in the Effingham Winery, although he would be willing to invest in it.
Pearmund explained that his winery would employ Northern Virginia residents at good wages.
He also agreed to limit or ban some of the activities at the winery. He wants an early closing time, would provide no liquor licenses for banquets and would have no bands perform outdoors. He invited residents to come out to Pearmund Cellars to see how he runs his wineries.
“This will be the 16th winery Mr. Pearmund has put together,” said Jennifer Goldman, spokesperson for the winery. “If you visit the wineries, you’ll get a sense of what it is like to be there.”
Pearmund assured everyone he wants to be a good neighbor and to continue to have an open dialogue. However, residents said Pearmund had not reached out to them, which is, as one person said, “a big part of our frustration.”
Pearmund said he had been working with Alexander Lakes HOA president and was under the impression that he was talking on his behalf.
Residents explained they have a tumultuous relationship with their unelected HOA president, who they said was suppose to hand over control the of HOA; they told Pearmund he would have a difficult time buying additional property as the lots are subject to HOA restrictions.
One man said that the association has fought against many land use issues, but perhaps this land use is appropriate since it is agricultural and could enhance the Nokesville area.
However, the Lake Alexander and Aden Road residents disagreed, saying even though they might see it as desirable for Nokesville overall, they believe it harmful to their neighborhood.
© 2016, Stacy Shaw. All rights reserved.