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Options available for preserved land at Mullins farm
Date published: 9/17/2004
By GEORGE WHITEHURST
Preservationists will now control the fate of some of the rolling green hills along State Route 3 in Spotsylvania County--land that was a battlefield soaked in American blood more than 140 years ago.
The seemingly relentless growth of suburbia won't engulf about 140 acres of farmland where Union and Confederate troops fought on the first day of the Battle of Chancellorsville.
It was a hard-won campaign, but keepers of the past will chart the future of land once slated for development.
In a multiplayer land deal, the Civil War Preservation Trust will pay Spotsylvania-based Tricord Inc. $3 million for the property, which includes a 1,000-foot strip along Route 3. Tricord is buying the tract and an additional 87 acres from funeral-home owner John Mullins. A source said the company--which will seek a rezoning to allow age-restricted houses on the 87 acres--is paying Mullins $12.5 million.
The trust plans, first of all, to place a conservation easement on the land to protect it in perpetuity, said trust spokesman Jim Campi.
"At some point, all the Civil War battlefield land in the country will have been either saved or developed, and there won't be a need for the CWPT," he said. "Therefore, we need to be prepared so that--50 years, 100 years from now--this land is still protected."
The trust may leave its new treasure as is. Motorists rave about the beauty of the open land, and the glimpse it offers of the mountains to the west.
Or the nonprofit group could plant trees along the back of its strip of land, which would partially restore the parcel's heavily wooded Civil War-era appearance. The trees would also screen from view the age-restricted homes.
Campi said yesterday that the trust plans to develop a preservation plan with county officials--who helped negotiate the deal--and the National Park Service, which manages the nearby federal battlefield park.
"Everyone had a share in this, and we want to make sure that everyone has a say in how it's protected," he said.
Campi added that the trust wants to develop educational signs and walking trails that cater to both tourists and residents of the planned Tricord community. He also said limited re-enactments might be allowed.