LOCUST GROVE, VA. Wal-Mart Picks a Second Site After Civil War Battefield Defeat
On January 27, 2011, Sprawl-Busters reported that Wal-Mart's high profile attempt to locate a superstore near the Virginia civil war battlefield known as The Wilderness, has gone down to defeat. The Ozark-based retailing giant fell on its own sword, announcing abruptly that it was withdrawing its plans for a superstore near the site where 29,000 soldiers perished in one of the most remarkable two days battles in the history of the Civil War. Wal-Mart's surrender ended their 26 month siege of the Wilderness Battlefield.But now, seven months later, Wal-Mart is picking another site near the battlefield that has neighbors upset again.
According to a report submitted by anti-Wal-Mart activists in Virginia, a citizen's group has form to block what they call a "frivolous" Wal-Mart plan. Here is their report fron the front lines of the battle:
"Wal-Mart proposes to open a store in Locust Grove, Virginia at the intersection of Routes 3/708. This site is not acceptable, as it is practically in the front yard of the Somerset Farm Community. Route 708 is the only viable entrance to Somerset Farm, and leads to a private road within the community (Somerset Ridge Road). Therefore, concerned residents have organized a "battle group", known as RESIDENTS OPPOSED TO WAL-MART LOCATION IN ORANGE COUNTY @ Route 708, (ROWLOC), to oppose Wal-Mart's lousy site selection.
ROWLOC is concerned about a host of serious problems that a Wal-Mart would bring to this quiet rural neighborhood, situated north of Route 3, approximately half-way between Fredericksburg and Culpeper. These issues of concern, include: crime, (especially drug traffic), traffic congestion, safety, air pollution, noise pollution, invasion of privacy (as Wal-Mart customers explore the area), and property values. A poll of Somerset residents revealed overwhelming opposition (over 80% against) to the 708 site.
The Orange County Comprehensive Plan states that 'new development proposals will be compatible with existing development in scale and design.' The large Wal-Mart project is not compatible in scale and design to existing development near the 708 intersection. If a Wal-Mart "BOX" is approved for over 60,000 square feet, it will irrevocably change the rural character of the area. As one writer to the Free Lance Star newspaper stated, "we can kiss it goodbye." By choosing the 708 site, Wal-Mart has "leap-frogged" one of the prime sites that is designated for "Economic Development" by the Comprehensive Plan, further east on the Route 3 corridor. That location is better because it is closer to the largest customer base, Lake of the Woods, and several retailers are already established in that vicinity. It appears that Wal-Mart picked the 708 intersection because it could be developed faster (properly zoned and utilities in place). This is a frivolous short-term business solution for Wal-Mart; however, it is a long-term (forever) "can of worms" for Somerset homeowners.
ROWLOC would prefer a Wal-Mart site (not 708) that is in the best long-term interest of Orange County -- NOT a perceived short-term economic return. After all, we (RESIDENTS) are all taxpayers, already established as a substantial part of the County tax base -- NOW!
What you can do: ROWLOC strategy to oppose this proposed Walmart site includes the following:
a. Encourage the Orange County Board of Supervisors to deny Wal-Mart's request for a special use permit for projected size (128,000 sq ft).
b. Oppose state or county funding for roadways or other enhancements which might facilitate
Wal-Mart's desire to build at the Route 708 site.
c. Recommend other sites to Wal-Mart.
BOTTOM LINE: If Wal-Mart builds at the 708 location, we will not gain a store; we will lose a community. We want to save our community!
Readers who want to help ROWLOC make their case should cut and paste this article, and email it to Lee Frame, Chairman of the Orange County, Virginia Board of Supervisors at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Chairman Frame represents District 5 in Orange County, which includes Locust Grove.