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Orange supervisors not swayed by study offer
Orange supervisors not impressed with coalition's offer to conduct land-use study


Date published: 4/3/2009

BY ROBIN KNEPPER

Most Orange County supervisors don't appear any more interested in the latest attempt by preservationists to engage them in a discussion of land use than they were the first time.

Members of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition sent a letter this week to Board of Supervisors Chairman Lee Frame asking for the county to agree to a "comprehensive planning process for the Wilderness Battlefield/Orange County gateway region."

The letter reiterates an offer made earlier this year that supervisors rejected, but this time includes the signatures of landowners Charles "Chip" King, his sister Jan King Evans, and local businessman Ken Dotson, the Kings' local representative.

"There's nothing new in this letter, and it isn't going to change any votes on the Board of Supervisors," Frame said yesterday.

"It sort of puts us in the position of following the outcome of a study. A study might produce something we might like to look at, but that's not likely to happen."

The proposed gateway covers the State Routes 3 and 20 area of northeast Orange. The area is already home to commercial development, including a Sheetz gas station, a 7-Eleven, two strip malls, a Wachovia bank, a McDonald's and a used-car lot.

Wal-Mart wants to build a Supercenter as part of a 50-acre retail development in the area--a site preservationists oppose because of its proximity to the Civil War battlefield park.

King and his family have proposed a 900-acre mixed-used development called Wilderness Crossing on the north side of Route 3, adjacent to the Wal-Mart site. It is part of the 2,000 acres owned by the family. The county's comprehensive plan designates growth in that area, and county officials have long looked to the area for commercial development to balance the tax base.

According to figures provided to County Administrator Bill Rolfe by the commissioner of revenue, Orange has 1,862 acres classified as business and industry for tax-assessment purposes. That's less than 1 percent of the county--far below the goal of 30 percent.

Three of the county's five supervisors have already voiced their support for Wal-Mart, citing the need for the promised 300 jobs and $500,000 in annual tax revenue for the county.


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