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ORANGE FIGHTS BACK
Orange asks court to dismiss lawsuit challenging decision to allow Walmart in Wilderness battlefield area say

Date published: 10/14/2009

BY ROBIN KNEPPER

The Orange County Board of Supervisors is asking a court to dismiss a lawsuit seeking to overturn its approval of a Walmart Supercenter in the Wilderness battlefield area.

Calling the complaint filed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Friends of the Wilderness Battlefield and six individual plaintiffs a "rambling set of allegations designed to try to avoid dismissal prior to trial," the response filed yesterday maintains that the plaintiffs have no standing or cause to sue.

On Aug. 25, the Orange Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to grant a special-use permit for a 240,000-square-foot retail development on a 51.5-acre parcel northwest of the intersection of State Routes 3 and 20 and a quarter-mile from the entrance to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. Walmart plans to build a 138,000-square-foot Supercenter as the anchor store.

On Sept. 25, opponents filed a legal challenge contending the board's decision was "flawed in numerous respects." It claims that supervisors "brushed aside" mounting concerns about the negative impacts the store would have on the battlefield and park.

In its response, the county says the "complaint displays a lack of understanding of Virginia land-use law."

"Digested to its essentials, the complaint does not state a cause of action. Rather, plaintiffs simply have a fundamental policy disagreement with the board," the response states.

The response also notes that neither the federal nor state government has prohibited development on the property, which has been privately owned and zoned for commercial development since 1973.

"Plaintiffs want to prevent use of land that they do not own and this suit is a contrived effort to enable them to do so," the response states.

None of the plaintiffs have standing to challenge the special-use permit because none are "aggrieved persons" under the Orange County zoning ordinance, according to the response.

"It is not legally sufficient to establish standing to sue that the National Trust and the Friends are attempting to advance some perceived public right or to redress some anticipated public injury," it states.

Robert D. Rosenbaum, attorney for the National Trust and other plaintiffs, disputed the main points of the county's legal response.


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