Monday, September 24, 2007

Development Plans Threaten Brandy Station Battlefield

The following article is re-posted from the Brandy Station Foundation's Autumn newsletter by permission of Foundation President Bob Luddy. The map, unfortunately, wouldn't copy through, but may be found on the Foundation's website, located at left.

Huge Development Proposed Near Battlefield

A Northern Virginia developer has requested a land rezoning in Culpeper County on 513 acres of agricultural land that would result in a 3.4 million square foot development with a 20-year build out. The development is entitled Willow Run and is located roughly half-way (3 miles) between the Graffiti House and the Rappahannock River.

The development (see map below) located at Willow Run near the Culpeper regional Airport would sit on a portion of the Battle of Brandy Station battlefield (June 9, 1863) The development itself doesn’t threaten the core battlefield (it would sit on the far right extension of Wade Hampton’s battle line), but its creation would create added pressure for other development closer to the core battlefield both commercial and residential.

The developer, USA Development, proposes to build office buildings, retail shops, and residential loft units above the shops, commercial structures, restaurants and a theater as well as a private 500 plus-student “international” school. Some of the structures would stand eight to nine stories near the airport and its commercial park. The plan also calls for an equestrian complex and a “fun” water park!

For anyone familiar with Central Park shopping center in Fredericksburg along state Route 3 and I-95, this project would be 50 percent larger and, if successful, create even more traffic on an existing four-lane highway.

The developer has met once with members of the Brandy Station Foundation Board of Directors one time seeking our support. They later provided copies of their plans and proposal to BSF. USA Development is offering, with no way to hold them to it, to set up a battlefield “visitors” center within the development with donations going to BSF. They also offered to run “daily” bus tours to the Graffiti House. Unfortunately, this level of staffing is currently beyond our ability and desire to support.

As an organization, we have serious concerns about the size and scope of this ambitious venture.

The BSF board is studying traffic concerns on US Route 29 and the resulting degradation of the battlefield surrounding this proposal. It is feared that if the rezoning is approved, the developer will sell it off and other uses may occur. The proffers provided don’t limit many uses.

The matter is still before the county’s planning commission, which is conducting public hearings on the plan. We will keep members advised on our plans regarding this development.

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