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Spotsylvania turns down security training proposal
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Spotsylvania turns down security training proposal

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Crucible (copy)

A sign opposing the Crucible sits at the intersection of Red Fox Drive and Harts Run.

A proposed military-style security training facility won’t be coming to Thornburg.

After a short public hearing Tuesday night at Massaponax High School, the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors denied requests for a zoning change and special-use permit, but agreed to rezone the property from agricultural to commercial.

Radio Reconnaissance Technologies, which has operated a training facility called Crucible in southern Stafford County for more than 20 years, wanted to relocate to a new complex on nearly 70 acres it owns along U.S. 1, near the intersection of Mudd Tavern and Morris roads.

To build the facility, Crucible needed the rezoning and special-use permit approvals from the county.

Crucible focuses on training for U.S. government, Department of Defense and other federal agencies, as well as multinational corporations.

Plans for the Spotsylvania facility called for several buildings; an outdoor, 30-station firearm range surrounded by a 20-foot-tall earth berm; a rally course; and an emergency helicopter landing pad. Training would have included the use of simulated improvised explosive devices.

The proposal saw opposition from the beginning, more than four years ago, when residents in a rural swath of the county came out in force, speaking against the facility and posting “Stop Crucible” signs. Opponents argued that the facility was not a good fit for Thornburg, citing safety, sound and property value concerns. The area also is seen as one of Spotsylvania’s prime development areas.

All of those mitigating factors were repeated by county staff and the Planning Commission, both of which recommended denial.

Twenty-one people spoke during the public hearing. All spoke against the proposal, and all appeared to live in the vicinity of the Crucible property.

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County staff stopped short of giving a full presentation of the proposal and deferred to the applicant and residents.

Ernie Gillespie, co-owner of Radio Reconnaissance Technologies Inc., took only a few seconds of his allotted time before the Board of Supervisors.

“We accept the decision of the board about this property. Thank you,” he said and returned to his seat.

The county brokered a compromise in the proposal that included denial of the rezoning and special-use permit requests while approving a rezoning for the property from agricultural to commercial. The change allows for up to 45 types of development on the property, including a shopping center and data centers, the latter of which was mentioned by Supervisor Kevin Marshall, who represents the Thornburg area.

Marshall came out early against the Crucible project, echoing residents who said the facility is not a good fit for an area with homes and businesses.

A series of residents repeated Tuesday night that the Crucible would ruin their quality of life and hurt property values. Several spoke in support of the compromise to rezone the property.

David Satterwhite said he and his family lost out on a deal for their property because of the Crucible proposal.

A developer who wants to build an apartment complex near the U.S. 1 intersection said the range would be problematic for him and neighboring property owners.

Matt Faulkner, who also lives near the site, said the board had an important decision to make.

“Thornburg is going to change,” he said. “We just have to decide what kind of change.”

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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