Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Development Controversy in Orange County

Wilderness Battlefield is in Orange County. I drive past it when I drive to Washington by way of Fredericksburg, but I have never actually visited it (or Chancellorsville, which is just close by).

The cover story of last week's issue of C'Ville, by Kathryn Faulkner, examines the controversy surrounding the possibility of a Wal-Mart being located just outside the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (but within the "study area" of Wilderness Battlefield, according to military historians).

The 55-acre parcel being considered as the building site has actually been zoned commercial since 1973, but the coalition of preservationists opposing Wal-Mart's efforts is arguing that the zoning designation is "stale" because of the owner's failure to develop it to date.

In her article, Faulkner quotes Orange County's Comprehensive Plan, in particular its emphasis on preserving the County's rural heritage - the language is similar to that in the Comprehensive Plans for other central Virginia counties. Faulkner does a great job of balancing perspectives, with a focus on two County Supervisors on opposite sides of the issues: Mark Johnson (supporting Wal-Mart) and Teri Pace (opposing).

141. Who handles Wal-Mart's legal work in central Virginia? Do they have any local counsel?

142. Other than proximity to Richmond, what was the military significance of the land around Fredericksburg? It's so interesting to think that the future of the USA was decided, in part, in Orange County, considering it's such a quiet, peaceful place now.

143. Mom and Dad recently watched Ken Burns speak about his new PBS documentary which is a study of the national park system. When is this coming out? Does he include any of the battlefields?

144. There has been significant development controversy surrounding Gettysburg Battlefield in the past ten years or so... who's "winning" in the Gettysburg disputes - the preservationists or the more pro-development people?

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