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Parties see hope in Mullins talks
No deadline has been set in negotiations to preserve part of historic Spotsylvania farm.


Date published: 8/27/2004

By GEORGE WHITEHURST

Some of the parties negotiating the future of the historic Mullins farm regard each other almost as warily as the Union and Confederate armies during the 1862 siege of Fredericksburg.

Still, at least one party is optimistic about forging a deal to preserve part of the farm.

Jim Campi, spokesman for the Civil War Preservation Trust, said this week that "progress has been made" in discussions to save between 80 and 120 acres on State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County. The land saw fighting on the first day of the Civil War Battle of Chancellorsville.

Campi offered few details, adding that no deadline has been set for reaching a deal. "We're hoping for a win-win solution for everyone involved [and] especially for county residents," he said.

Discussions have occurred quietly for some time and involve the property owner, land developers, preservationists and county officials.

The land involved is 234 acres owned by John Mullins. Mullins once owned nearly 800 acres along Route 3. The balance of the farm apparently has been sold or put under contract to luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc.

The tract under negotiation includes 179 acres zoned for rural residential development and 55 acres zoned for commercial use.

Campi suggested that Toll Brothers--which already is building houses on some of the land it bought--apparently won't exercise its option to buy the 179 residential acres. If that proves correct, it opens the door for Spotsylvania-based Tricord Inc. to develop a portion of that land and the commercial acreage, and set part of it aside for preservation.

"My understanding is that the developer we're negotiating with [Tricord] has this property under contract--that Toll Brothers decided not to act upon its right for first refusal," Campi said.

The asking price for the 234 acres has not been disclosed. Mullins was out of town and could not be reached for comment.

Mullins owns Covenant Funeral Service in Spotsylvania and once owned the larger Mullins and Thompson Funeral Service chain. He bought the farm in the mid-90s and has earned a considerable return on his investment, according to county land records.

On Jan 27, 1995, he paid a little over $563,000 to John and Margaret Orrock for 297 acres on Route 3.


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