Klotz Building hangs in limbo

In what has been an ongoing discussion since December of 2012 the Town Council of Colonial Beach again took up a proposal from the Paul Stefan Foundation to refurbish the “Klotz Building so it can be used as a home for unwed mothers.” Foundation director Randy James said homes the foundation already runs spend approximately one dollar for every five dollars worth of value given to the women. The women do not pay rent and are aided in finding jobs or finishing their education.

James said being a married parent is hard and even more difficult for a single parent with little or no support.

“What we do is with a sincere heart. We bring in homeless women and give them a new start.”

Wayne Rose, a town resident, said he supported giving the building to the foundation in exchange for the charity refurbishing the building. He also threw in his support for the group looking to refurbishing RiverWood Apartments.

Larry Roberson, Colonial Beach’s representative on the Westmoreland County Board of Supervisors, spoke out saying, “You have someone willing to go.  Your track record for maintenance stinks. Let him rock and roll!” He added, sooner or later you have to give back.

But Glenda Chiarello, wife of council member Jim Chiarello, said she was against giving the building to the foundation because it would draw on town services such as the fire department and rescue squad. She also said there were other organizations that could do better with the building, even though the town has not been approached by any other group about the building.

Chiarello asked if there was a way for the town to keep the deed to the property and allow its perpetual use by the foundation. James’ latest proposal asks for the building to be deeded to the foundation with a clause that if the charity ceases to use the building it would return to town ownership.

The Klotz building is within the boundaries of what is considered the Resort Commercial District. Changes to a town ordinance would have to be made to allow the proposed home. The boundaries are the Potomac River to the East, Washington Avenue to the West, Colonial Ave to the North and Boundary Ave to the South. There are some homes that will be grandfathered in, if the changes to the ordinance is passed.

The proposed home also would need a Conditional Use Permit. According to Zoning Administrator Gary Mitchell, it would fall under the definition of a rooming house as it will have several bedrooms and occupants.

James and his wife founded their organization in memory of their son, Paul Stefan, who was born with severely underdeveloped lungs and lived only 41 minutes. In the time since his birth and death the foundation has helped more than 150 women and their infant children.

No decision was made, but further discussion is anticipated at the town council work session on September 26.

Meantime, the Colonial Beach Historical Society wrote the council asking for permission to work on getting historic designation for the Klotz Building, Town Hall, School Board building, the Chamber of Commerce building and the condemned “Old High School,” so they can be listed on the Virginia Landmarks Register and National Register of Historic Places.

According to the society, receiving historic designation would allow for grants to revitalize the buildings.  Applying to get the designation could take six months with grants coming later. The council agreed to allow the society to work on the project but will continue to consider the foundation proposal for the Klotz Building.

At the end of the night’s meeting, Jim Chiarello asked that anyone willing to volunteer for the Planning Commission to please contact Town Hall. The commission is now down to four members from seven.

The next council meeting is the September work session on September 26  at 4:30 P.M.

Posted on Wednesday, September 18, 2013 at 9:29 am