Hiker Hostel in Front Royal, VA, Rejected

Published Apr 22, 2013


Two of the millions of kind, respectful people who hike the Appalachian Trail. ~~ Photograph by Robert Sutherland

A year ago, Warren County and Front Royal, Virginia, were named a single Appalachian Trail Community by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC).

The honor was not only bestowed because of the proximity of the AT, but because residents in the area were known to be hiker friendly.

Now, the Board of Supervisors has proven that friendliness has severe limits.

Two requests from Front Royal's Scott and Lisa Jenkins for a hiker hostel - one at 3471 Remount Road -- were denied on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, even though the area had been approved for a bed and breakfast operation by the Planning Commission. The land is zoned for agricultural use, with the conditional use B&B stipulation.

The addition of the term "hiker hostel" to the request turned out to be a problem. Hiker hostels are not defined in the county's code.

Supervisors voted 4-1 to deny the request to add hiker hostel to allowable uses. Supervisor "Dick" Traczyk was one of the four who voted against the proposal to add hiker hostel to the list of approved uses; only one member voted in favor of it.

The Jenkins' had hoped to run a B&B and a hiker hostel on the property that is a short walk from the Appalachian Trail.

Dozens of area residents signed a petition asking the board to reject the request for a five-bed hostel, even though an attendant would have been on site, as compared to having an unsupervised open shelter. One of the primary points of contention was the supposed "problems that occur in hostels such as squatters, trespassing into our private community."

We will not dignify the hysterical and insulting accusations made against the character or actions of those who might pay to spend the night at the proposed hostel by listing the slurs here.

Should these hiker-friendly plans proceed in the future, we will keep you posted.

We regret that the actions of a few citizens of this area have smeared the reputation of friendliness earned by those who whole-heartedly support the Appalachian Trail and those who enjoy its paths. We hold no grudge toward anyone in Front Royal. What town doesn't have a few creeps?

Our Original Story on Front Royal, VA -- Subject to Revision

Tags: Tourism, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Appalachian Trail, Appalachian Trail Community, News, Appalachian Trail Museum, and US Forest Service

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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