Fredericksburg Board Approves
New Subdivision For 79 Houses

By Scott C. Boyd
(September 2012 Civil War News)

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FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – The city’s planning commission recently  approved a proposed 79-house subdivision across from the entrance to scenic Lee Drive in the Fredericksburg unit of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The July 25 vote of 4-1 was made despite opposition from the National Park Service and others.

The final subdivision plat and plan for Telegraph Hill, a development with 79 single-family homes on 28.883 acres off Lafayette Boulevard, now goes to the city council for approval. A hearing date had not been set by presstime.

The site used to be a lumber yard and has an abandoned mine. After the lumber business relocated to nearby Spotsylvania County, local investment group Fredericksburg Park LLC acquired it for $2.15 million in 2005.

Under the name “Fredericksburg Park,” an 86-house subdivision, later amended to 88 units, was proposed for the property at a Sept. 8, 2010, planning commission public hearing.

Various concerns were raised at that and subsequent hearings leading up to the final vote in December. Concerns included adding to existing traffic congestion, safety issues with ingress and egress to the subdivision on Lafayette Boulevard, and the impact on the battlefield park’s entrance at Lee Drive.

The drive accesses the land where Gen. Robert E. Lee’s right flank was positioned during the Battle of Fredericksburg and where Union troops broke through, but were then pushed back.

Park Superintendent Russ Smith opposed the development in two letters to the planning commission. His Nov. 10, 2010, letter cited passages in both the city’s comprehensive and historic preservation plans that call for the preservation of the battlefield park and careful coordination with the NPS in development planning.

Smith’s Dec. 7, 2010, letter said the NPS believes the proposed subdivision “will have serious impacts on the historic values and aesthetic qualities of the Lee Drive entrance and degrade the visitor experience.”

The proposal was rejected by a 4-2 vote at the Dec. 8, 2010, meeting.

The developers came back with a new proposal renamed “Telegraph Hill” after the former name of Lafayette Boulevard, which was Telegraph Road. This plan for 79 homes was presented to the city planning commission on April 13, 2011.

An engineer for the developers told the commission that changes had been made so the plan conformed to the requirements for a by-right development. Such development does not require a special use permit.

Developer Hunter Greenlaw said that the city staff “had bent over backwards for them to try to move the project forward,” according to the meeting minutes.

The preliminary plat and plan was approved by a 3-1 vote at the April 27, 2011, planning commission meeting. The recent July 25 vote approved the final plat and plan.

“We’re very much against it,” Smith said in an email. “It goes against the Lafayette Corridor Plan, which [the National Park Service] took part in and which the city approved. I plan to testify before city council when it comes up.”

Also by email, city councilman Matt Kelly said, “While I do understand the right to develop property, in my role as city councilman I am obligated to ensure that development does not conflict with city goals and interests.”

He said the city’s adopted plan for Lafayette Boulevard “not only deals with future traffic demands and pedestrian access, it meets our preservation goal to protect one of the city’s unique and most important assets — the Fredericksburg battlefield.”

According to Kelly the Telegraph Hill plan, as currently proposed, “does not meet either the city’s transportation or preservation goals. To approve it would not be in the city’s interest.”