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Preservation coalition implores Wal-Mart's CEO to reconsider Wilderness site
|PDF: Read the letter|
By CLINT SCHEMMER
As they indicated earlier this week, preservationists fighting a Walmart in the Wilderness battlefield area aren't crying uncle.
Late yesterday afternoon, they fired off a letter to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s new CEO, Michael Duke, urging him to reconsider the location its regional executives chose for a Supercenter in eastern Orange County.
Wal-Mart and its real-estate partners--JDC Ventures of Vienna and 3 & 20 Limited Partnership of Burke--were granted a special-use permit for a 240,000-square-foot retail center Tuesday by the Orange County Board of Supervisors. The site is a quarter-mile from Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
Eight private groups, called the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, say the development and traffic it will bring will mar park visitors' experience and destroy scenic vistas.
Yesterday, the coalition wrote Duke asking him "in the strongest possible terms" to find another site that would "that would not be so damaging to the county's most-visited tourist attraction and one of the most important Civil War battlefields in the nation."
The coalition offered to collaborate with company and Orange County officials to pick a location farther from the battlefield that would suit the retailer's needs. It said it is open to endorsing a rezoning for a new site. "Our coalition has stated from the beginning that we would welcome a new Walmart to Orange County at a less historically sensitive location," the groups told Duke, "[We] would be willing to consider supporting a rezoning at a location farther from the battlefield, and are eager to work with the county and Wal-Mart to help identify an alternate location."
The groups urged Wal-Mart "to take advantage of the generous offer" that Gov. Tim Kaine and House Speaker Bill Howell made last month to provide state assistance toward selecting an alternate site. Wal-Mart's regional spokesman, Keith Morris, has previously said the Wilderness tract is the only Orange site that meets the corporation's requirements. "We are committed to our current site, which is zoned and master-planned specifically for the use we have proposed," Morris said yesterday.