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Walmart cancels Wilderness store plans
Walmart backs down on plans to build Supercenter in Orange County near the Wilderness Battlefield.

 Zann Nelson (left) president of Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, and lead attorney for the plaintiffs Robert Rosenbaum share their reactions to Walmart's decision not to go forth with plans to build a retail center along Route 3 near the Wilderness Battlefield. The surprise announcement came during court proceedings on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011. Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star
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RELATED UPDATE: Walmart reversal shocks officials

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Date published: 1/26/2011


Walmart has canceled its plans to build a Supercenter and anchored retail center at the Wilderness Battlefield.

It was announced in Orange County Circuit Court this morning.

The judge in the case announced that Walmart Stores Inc. and JDC Ventures, the developers of the 51-acre project have relinquished their rights under the special-use permit issued by the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The judge read a statement in court from Walmart saying that it would not develop the property, however, Walmart said it will proceed on plans to build another store elsewhere in the Route 3 corridor in eastern Orange.

Walmart said it is very grateful Orange County officials for their efforts and that it hopes to find a balance between preservation and economic growth.

Also in a prepared statement, Orange County Attorney Sharon Pandak wrote that county officials were caught off-guard.

The county "was stunned and disappointed" with Walmart's decision, Pandak wrote.

"Orange County stood with Walmart to defend in court county approval of its requested special-use permit.

"Orange County officials and staff worked very hard through a review process to balance economic development with private property rights and a respect for historic preservation in developing the Route 3 corridor," she wrote.

In a press release, the president of the Civil War Trust expressed relief.

“We are pleased with Walmart’s decision to abandon plans to build a supercenter on the Wilderness battlefield,” James Lighthizer said.

“We have long believed that Walmart would ultimately recognize that it is in the best interests of all concerned to move their intended store away from the battlefield. We applaud Walmart officials for putting the interests of historic preservation first. Sam Walton would be proud of this decision.”

The judge said Walmart will compensate Orange County for its legal and administrative expenses over the past two years in working on the project.

No explanation was given in court for the reversal of plans.

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