Battle Brewing Over Civil War Battlefield - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Battle Brewing Over Civil War Battlefield

Posted: Updated: Oct 16, 2008 05:44 AM EDT

A battle is brewing in Orange County over a civil war battlefield. The players are Wal-Mart, county leaders, and people who want to protect the Wilderness Battlefield National Park.

Wal-Mart wants to build a supercenter on Route 3 just across from Wilderness Battlefield National park. The county says it does not have a formal proposal, but groups like the Park Service and Piedmont Environmental Council already do not like it.

Dan Holmes of the Piedmont Environmental Council said, "Most of the population on the Route 3 corridor is several miles up the road from this battlefield. If you're going to be talking about future commercial we feel like it would be in the best interest of the county to target that closest to where the population is."

According to Brent Lawrenz of the Civil War Preservation Trust, "It's going to put a tremendous pressure on Route 20 which is 2 lanes and they're proposing to re-route part of it through key battleground area."

These groups claim they will lose tourism dollars, and land that needs to be preserved but the other side claims the town cannot afford not to do it.

Orange County Administrator Bill Rolfe said, "We can't afford some of the things we're doing and some of the projects that we need to do with out expanding and diversifying our tax base. Just looking at a Wal-Mart you're talking about 1/2 a million dollars a year in revenue which is over a penny on the tax rate."

Nobody is saying when development would start. In the end, both sides say they are work out an agreement to bring in both commercial money and tourists.

Neither Wal-Mart nor developers were available for comment.

Once official proposals for development on the shopping centers are in, the public will have a chance to voice their opinion on the issue.

Reported by Liz Nagy
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