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Plan will preserve 'gateway,' growth
Orange County officials, landowners, preservationists agree on vision for Wilderness battlefield 'gateway'

 Glenn Stach of Hill Studio and Zann Nelson of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield confer at Saunders Field.
Dan McFARLAND /THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 11/23/2012

BY CLINT SCHEMMER

A different vision for Orange County's State Route 3 corridor is gaining backers as people who were once rivals work to blend job-creating growth with landscape preservation.

That is today's word from the parties in a nationally rare effort to shape the future for what they call the "gateway" to Virginia's Wilderness battlefield--the Civil War site where forces led by Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee first faced off.

Hill Studio of Roanoke and the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield announced a consensus-based development plan for the gateway along Route 3 to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Orange Supervisor Jim White said the county can incorporate the vision in its comprehensive land-use plan, now being revised, to create a framework for the Route 3 corridor.

"The Preferred Development Plan establishes a workable direction for the future and will enable us to pursue more detailed analyses and land planning for the gateway corridor," White said in a statement.

Orange officials, major landowners and preservationists who shaped the plan said it can achieve both economic development and preservation goals.

The central idea is to create a community with a truly unique sense of place where people can live, work and play, said Glenn Stach, the preservation landscape architect at Hill Studio who facilitated the dialogue.

"We want people to feel that 'I want to live there, I want to be there,'" said Zann Nelson, president of the Wilderness friends group, a nonprofit based in Orange.

The plan aims to preserve some historic land between Route 3, the Rapidan River and the battlefield, create a mixed-use village along Vaucluse Road, improve the Route 3 corridor's appearance and attract major employers in tune with workers' quality-of-life issues.

It seeks to avoid the kind of visual blight and commercial sprawl that bedevils Route 3 motorists closer to Fredericksburg, participants in the planning process said.

Local landowner Chip King, whose family owns several square miles astride Wilderness Run northeast of the national park, lauded the multi-phase planning effort.


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