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Historic Rt. 3 slice set aside?
Developer is willing to sell part of Mullins Farm if Spotsylvania County allows 33 more houses.

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Date published: 12/1/2005


More of the Chancellorsville battlefield's sacred soil soon may be taken off the development block.

Toll Brothers Inc. of Horsham, Pa., is poised to sell 75 acres of battleground on State Route 3 to the Civil War Preservation Trust.

The sale hinges on the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors increasing the number of homes the company can build on about 500 adjacent acres.

Stafford County land-use attorney Clark Leming, who is representing Toll Brothers, said the company will sell the 75 acres to the trust at a "substantially below-market" price but declined to state the specific amount.

Trust spokesman Jim Campi said the deal would be another step toward preserving a piece of national history--the spot where Union and Confederate forces fought on the first day of the Battle of Chancellorsville.

"We're very excited about this pending agreement," he said. "We think this is a real win for battlefield preservation, and it is a culmination of efforts that began more than a decade ago to preserve the Mullins Farm."

The farm, formerly owned by local businessman John Mullins, once consisted of 800 acres on Route 3 that he bought for $2.8 million in 1995.

Mullins since has sold the property to Toll Brothers and to Spotsylvania-based Tricord Inc. Toll Brothers has begun by-right construction of 163 luxury homes on its land.

In return for selling 75 acres to the trust, Toll Brothers wants a portion of its remaining property rezoned to allow an additional 33 homes.

The company would pay more than $22,000 to the county for each of the additional units, to cover public services needed by the new residents. Toll Brothers also has agreed to create only one entrance from Route 3 into its development.

Supervisor Hap Connors, a vocal preservation proponent, seems pleased with the plan.

"While there are some issues that need to be reviewed and resolved, this proposal is yet another example of the kind of mutually beneficial solutions this board likes to promote," Connors wrote in an e-mail. "It reaffirms property rights, while preserving historic property and our unique rural viewscape along Route 3."

Board Chairman Bob Hagan, who played a key role in brokering the deal, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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