Spiritual retreat shot down in Richmond

The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Tuesday voted down granting resident Scott Gillen permission to use 44.25 acres on Briggs Street for spiritual retreats, meditation workshops, yoga, religious ceremonies and similar events.

The property at 8823 Briggs St. is zoned for residential and agricultural uses, so Gillen needed a special use permit.

The use is “not something that will fit in with the character of the neighborhood,” said ZBA chairman John Morsheimer, referring to concerns from residents and town and county Planning Boards.

About 15 attended a public hearing last month when Scott Gillen and his father, Kip Gillen, presented the plan along with their attorney, John Wells with Lacy Katzen LLP. Several residents spoke out against the plan, citing concerns with traffic, noise and possible impact on the watershed. A few citizens also complained about allowing a commercial venture on the property and questioned whether the proposed activities would fit as a religious use.

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