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Preservationist blasts new PDR plan
Preservationist fumes that Spotsylvania's new development-rights initiative gives short shrift to historic sites

Date published: 12/20/2004

As Spotsylvania supervisors consider how to preserve open space in the county, a disagreement may be brewing about a revised version of the plan.

Historic-preservation activist Caroline Hayden is sounding alarm bells over what she sees as the lack of attention to sites' historic and cultural characteristics in two top officials' alternative to the Purchase of Development Rights proposal.

"The bottom line is that I am left totally at a loss of words as to why they want to eliminate the cultural resources," Hayden said of the new proposal prepared by County Administrator Randy Wheeler and County Attorney Mark Taylor. "They basically gutted the part including properties with cultural resources. They basically wanted to go back and make it almost completely an agricultural concern."

Hayden served on the county committee that developed a PDR proposal--under which landowners could receive cash and lower property-tax bills for not turning their properties into strip malls and subdivisions.

That plan would divide property eligible for the program into two categories, one of which includes land and homes that "exhibit natural, scenic or historic resources."

The supervisors voted last month to delay implementing a PDR program, wanting more time to fine-tune it.

The alternative written by Wheeler and Taylor makes no specific mention of eligible properties having cultural and historic character.

It does, however, grant eligibility to lands that abut national parks and historic battlefields, as wells as property that "contains related Civil War Battlefield sites as delineated by the National Park Service."

Taylor said recently that the plan he and Wheeler are working on is very fluid, and that they welcome comments from the community.

Taylor added that he and Wheeler are trying to streamline the committee's plan and cut the cost of administering it.

"The biggest difference is that the committee approach would use appraisals in the valuation process, at a cost to the applicant of both money and time," Taylor said. "The concept that we're working on use the standard development-right valuation that would relieve both the applicant and the county from the cost and the time and the potential contention involved in using experts to appraise development rights."

The supervisors have made clear that any PDR program they adopt will be strictly voluntary.

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