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Talks aim to preserve portion of Chancellorsville battlefield on Mullins farm
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Date published: 8/13/2004
By GEORGE WHITEHURST
Negotiations are under way to preserve a portion of the Mullins farm, while still allowing limited development of the historic tract on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County.
John Mullins, owner of the 800-acre farm, hinted at the talks during Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.
Board Chairman Bob Hagan said in an interview that the discussions have occurred quietly for some time and involve preservationists, land developers and government officials.
The negotiations center on the land between Lick Run and Corter Avenue. It includes 179 acres zoned for rural residential development and 55 acres zoned for commercial use.
Hagan said a "very conscientious local developer" wants to build a subdivision of age-restricted homes, a three-step continuing care center and "very low-impact" retail and office space. He declined to name the developer.
The Free Lance-Star has learned that the deal would provide for preservation of between 80 and 120 acres of land along Route 3--an area preservationists want to save because fierce fighting occurred there on the first day of the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville. The rolling hillsides offer visitors a scenic welcome as they approach the portion of the Chancellorsville battlefield owned by the National Park Service.
"All of the details have not been worked out," Hagan stressed. "The deal is by no means complete. It's an opportunity, not a certainty."
The subdivision portion of the proposal would require a rezoning to allow a higher density of homes than the 62 that could be built right now. Officials have not said how many houses the age-restricted community would contain.
Supervisor Hap Connors said he is concerned about the project's size, but is pleased the developers would target it toward seniors.
"The value of age-restricted development is they have a lower impact on our capital costs and less impact on our roads," he said.
Supervisors say they prefer high-end, age-restricted homes because the residents often use fewer county services, especially the most expensive one--public schools.
Connors is also optimistic about balancing economic growth and historic preservation.
"We have an obligation and an opportunity to develop Route 3 in such a way that accommodates better commercial growth, while protecting these historic viewsheds," he said. "I do believe you can do the right thing and develop property at the same time."