We have reached the point at which "Civil War battlefield preservation" has not only broken free of its meaning but now indicates the exact opposite - "Civil War battlefield development." This first happened with the Civil War Preservation Trust's Tricord deal at Chancellorsville.
The genesis of this deal, as we have seen in this blog, was in a failure to buy certain land called "Mullins Farm" at Chancellorsville battlefield. As an improvisation after its failed purchase, CWPT arranged a payment to a developer to buy the land for nursing home construction; that developer, in turn, promised to make a restrictive use covenant on part of the battlefield not wanted for nursing homes.
As with many institutional failures, this ugly piece of redress was hailed as an important success and a new model for cooperation between preservers and developers.
Other developers read these articles, and not thinking past the reportage, took CWPT's face-saving comments at full value. They are now shopping for preservation partners to help them get zoning they would otherwise not have access to in exchange for easements and some walking-around money.
These developers in Spotsylvania County are modeling CWPT's deal near the Jackson Trail East:
The companies needed the rezoning for higher density on the site, and sweetened the pot with a $5 million cash proffer. Another carrot dangled before county officials was the offer to donate 181 acres to the Central Virginia Battlefields Trust after the first house was built.
Central Virginia Battlefields Trust is of smaller means than CWPT and fell into supporting CWPT's Tricord deal. Perhaps, to developers, this is like standing under a lamp-post in a red dress.
[Note: don't believe this bit quoted above about donating 181 acres without more evidence; it's probably about donating an easement on 181 acres. The article is from the Free Lance-Star, which consistently confuses easement sales with land sales.]
So, the red dress catches someone's eye:
In addition, the Trust was to receive $100 per house to be used for acquiring historically significant land in Spotsylvania. Preservationists were excited about the prospect of acquiring land adjacent to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
One shudders to think that a preservation society would enable construction like this. And would you believe the state Park Service is in this as well:
The Park Service was an ardent supporter of the original plan, saying the preservation benefits outweighed traffic concerns.
The Park Service was advocating high-density residential construction adjacent to the Jackson Trail East. Ardently. It's the Battlefield Development Bureau. "How may we be of service, Mr. Developer?"
Read it and ponder.