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Central Virginia Battlefields Trust Seeks to Preserve Land Across from Fredericksburg National Cemetery

    By Susan Larson

    Central Virginia Battlefields Trust (CVBT) wants to preserve 12.2 acres across from the Fredericksburg National Cemetery, on which local developer Carl Braun wants to build a 110 townhouse development named Highlander Park at Hazel Run.

    “Due to the historic significance of the Property as the scene of intense fighting during two major battles during the Civil War, I am writing to express the CVBT’s interest in preserving the Property and ultimately restoring it to its condition at the time of those battles,” CVBT President Tom A. Van Winkle wrote in a letter to Fredericksburg City Council (attached to this story as a .pdf).

    The land is along Lafayette Boulevard and Hazel Run, at what is known as “Dead Man’s Curve.” Braun has been working since 2003 to develop the site. He’d obtained approval for a 78,000 square foot fitness center and 24,000 square foot office complex, with associated outdoor recreational areas, but scrapped that idea after the recession.

    Fredericksburg Zoning Administrator Mike Craig recommended against the project earlier this year. “The property has sensitive environmental and historical features and characteristics,” Craig wrote in a September 2016 memo to the Planning Commission. “The application of 110 townhomes onto these sensitive lands can only be achieved by degrading existing historical, environmental, and recreational facilities on and adjacent to the site.”

    Friends of the Rappahannock, the National Park Service, and the city’s Environmental Planning Section also expressed concerns about the proposal’s impacts on Hazel Run and the National Park across the street.

    Braun subsequently pulled his plan from the Fredericksburg Planning Commission agenda, saying he wanted more time to address concerns.

    In his November 22, 2016, letter, Van Winkle explained why the property has historic value far greater than generally known. “You may not know of the unique strategic role it played, both during the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862, and the Battle of Chancellorsville (sometimes referred to as the “Second Battle of Fredericksburg”) on May 3, 1863,” he wrote, detailing the historic significance in his five-page letter.

    Van Winkle proposes a meeting with city officials, the National Park Service, and the property owner / developer “to explore what possibilities may exist to preserve the Property as an historic site that would inure to the permanent benefit of this community and the thousands of people who visit the Park annually from all over the world.”

    Central Virginia Battlefields Trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of sacred, historic battlefields in Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, and Spotsylvania Court House areas.

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