Jim Campi, (202) 367-1861 ext 7205
Mary Koik, (202) 367-1861 ext 7231
(Orange County, Va.) — The American Battlefield Trust has issued the following statement in response to the proposed Wilderness Crossing development plan, a 2,602-acre mixed use development application that was submitted to the Orange County Department of Planning and Zoning for review in early 2021.
“The American Battlefield Trust is greatly concerned about a proposal to rezone 2,602 acres of agricultural land immediately adjacent to the Wilderness Battlefield, in a region of Orange County known as the ‘Wilderness Gateway.’ The plan, if approved, will have an irreversible negative impact on the Wilderness Battlefield, transforming a place of quiet solitude into a park overwhelmed by intense traffic and suburban sprawl.
“The Wilderness Crossing proposal is composed of a series of applications with the potential for 4,750 residential units and 260 acres of commercial development – a scale well beyond previous development projects in the region. The plan surpasses the projected growth of Orange County in the next 30 years and omits likely costs to the public in its expense forecasts, including road construction, infrastructure expansion, environmental mitigation and waste removal.
“Development of this property jeopardizes the integrity of the historic Wilderness Battlefield, one of the most significant engagements of the Civil War and a site managed by the National Park Service (NPS) as part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. According to NPS, ‘Wilderness Crossing is likely the largest single project of its kind ever proposed adjacent to or near the National Military Park.’ The traffic that would result from the Wilderness Crossing development plan would forever intrude on the peaceful solitude of the battlefield park, degrade the visitor experience, and dramatically increase pressure to realign or widen Route 20 through the park.
“In 2012, the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition — composed of the American Battlefield Trust, Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, National Parks Conservation Association, National Trust for Historic Preservation and Piedmont Environmental Council — partnered with Orange County and local residents to create the Wilderness Battlefield Gateway Study, a comprehensive look at preservation and development opportunities in the Germanna Wilderness Area (GWA). Many of the recommendations were adopted by the county in 2015. Unfortunately, the Wilderness Crossing development proposal rejects important consensus recommendations developed as a result of this landmark study.”
The American Battlefield Trust is dedicated to preserving America’s hallowed battlegrounds and educating the public about what happened there and why it matters today. The nonprofit, nonpartisan organization has protected nearly 54,000 acres associated with the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Civil War. Learn more at www.battlefields.org.