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Celebrate easement approved
Council OKs gondola, 5-2

 Tom Savage, representing the Scenic Rappahannock Consortium, raises issues during last night's Fredericksburg City Council meeting with the wording of the ordinance that would grant
a 60-year lease of air rights across Rappahannock River tracts.

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Date published: 6/26/2002

Council OKs gondola, 5-2

The Fredericksburg City Council last night approved a conservation easement and an air-space lease for a gondola at the Celebrate Virginia development.

The easement was approved unanimously. The council voted 5-2, with Mayor Bill Beck and Councilman Scott Howson opposed, to grant the 60-year lease of air rights for the gondola.

Outgoing Councilman Richard Garnett, who along with three other council members marked his last meeting in office last night, reiterated his praise for the easement and thanked the groups who negotiated it.

"My thinking is that the owners of this property have given up a lot on this 133 acres," Garnett said.

Celebrate Virginia, to be developed by the Silver Cos. of Fredericksburg, is slated to include hotels, restaurants and a National Slavery Museum on the Fredericksburg side of the Rappahannock River, and offices and golf courses on the Stafford County side.

The conservation easement was reduced from 133 to 129 acres at the request of the Virginia Outdoors Foundation, a state agency that will hold the easement jointly with the city.

The foundation, which has secured easements all over the state, requested that a four-acre parcel including 15 group campsites and an outfitter center be removed from the protective agreement due to the intensive uses of that parcel.

Chris Hornung, project manager for the Silver Cos., said the developer is seeking another environmental group willing to hold an easement on that land.

The Virginia Outdoors Foundation's board is scheduled to approve the 129-acre easement this week.

The Celebrate Virginia easement includes preservation of Civil War earthworks, riparian lands where only pedestrian access is allowed, a primitive camping area, an outdoor education center, hiking and bike trails and canoe launch sites.

Its caretaker will be the Virginia Outdoor Center, a local business that also will oversee recreational activities on land included in the easement.

On the matter of the gondola, Councilman Scott Howson said he still wasn't ready to vote in favor.

"If I were considering supporting it, I would like to get some clarification on just what kind of construction we're talking about," he said.


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