Brandy Station hit with a flanking manuever.....
Brandy Station battle
June 10, 2004 7:24 am
By DONNIE JOHNSTON
The Brandy Station Foundation filed an appeal yesterday to prevent development of an eight-lot subdivision on land that was part of the Civil War battlefield and vowed to carry its fight to the state's highest court if necessary.
"If Golden Oaks Construction builds houses on this land, it will only be because the Virginia Supreme Court says it can," foundation attorney Ed Gentry said at a news conference.
The foundation is asking the Culpeper County Board of Zoning Appeals to overturn a Planning Department decision giving the Jeffersonton company permission to build its first two houses on the 18-acre parcel.
A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 19. By law, a decision must be made within 90 days of yesterday's filing.
The news conference, held on 14 acres of foundation-owned land adjacent to the proposed development, came on the 141st anniversary of the famed Civil War battle, the largest cavalry engagement ever fought in the Western Hemisphere.
Gentry was one of several speakers--including "Gods and Generals" director and producer Ron Maxwell--who talked about the historical significance of the land in question and the foundation's determination to preserve the integrity of the site.
"We totally disagree with the use of the land for this purpose," said foundation President Bob Luddy. He called the proposed development "an odious idea" and said "the time for turning the other cheek is past."
The 19-page, nine-count appeal brief claims the Board of Supervisors erred in 1989 when it zoned the property R-1 (allowing 1-acre residential lots) by failing to consider the historical significance of the land.
The brief also contends that a significant part of the battle in which some 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought took place on this property, part of the southern Fleetwood Heights plateau.
Gentry also suggested there could still be human remains on the land. He cited Confederate Gen. J.E.B. Stuart's report that Union soldiers were buried where they fell.
Gentry acknowledged, however, that more than 100 years of agricultural endeavors on the property have turned up no remains.
Gentry said the county Planning Department signed off on a two-lot subdivision last week, but plats filed indicate the developer intends to eventually create eight lots. The foundation discovered the plan Friday.
Officials with Golden Oaks could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Golden Oaks bought the land in April for $450,000, Gentry said. He said the previous owner had purchased the property about eight months earlier at a cost of $200,000.
Foundation members contacted the developer when they saw for-sale signs posted, but Luddy said offers of $500,000 and $540,000 were rejected.
"[Golden Oaks] could have made a $90,000 profit in 30 days," Luddy said.
He said the developer expects to make $1 million profit from the proposed eight houses.
Gentry accused Golden Oaks of using the two-house beginning to sidestep the hearing process that would be necessary with development of all eight lots at once. He noted that an eight-lot development is considered a major subdivision in Culpeper.
Gentry said the foundation doesn't oppose new residents in the Brandy Station area, but "They need to live somewhere else [besides the battlefield]."
Yesterday's action is the latest in an almost-two-decade-long battle to preserve the Brandy Station battlefield.
In the early and mid-1990s, the foundation successfully fought a California developer's effort to bring in first a business development, then a track for experimental automobiles.
The developer eventually gave up and the Civil War Preservation Trust ended up buying about 1,400 acres that it is currently developing into a battlefield park.
Mike "Dusty" Chapman
Member: CWT, CVBT, NTHP, MOC, KBA, Stonewall Jackson House, Mosby Heritage Foundation
"I would have posted this on the preservation folder, but nobody reads that!" - Christopher Daley
The AC was not started with the beginner in mind. - Jim Kindred