Board OKs Plan That Will Save 143 Acres At Chancellorsville
By Deborah Fitts
SPOTSYLVANIA COUNTY, Va. - A plan to save 143 acres
of the Chancellorsville battlefield took a crucial step forward on
Nov. 9, when the Spotsylvania County Board of Supervisors voted for a
rezoning that will seal the deal. "We're obviously pleased," said Jim Campi of the Civil War
Preservation Trust, "not only that they voted for it but that they
The focus of the Spotsylvania officials' interest was the 800-acre
Mullins Farm, which adjoins the Chancellorsville unit of
Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. Development
plans for the property have been bitterly contested by a coalition of
preservation groups led by the Trust. At the same time, formerly
pro-development county officials have become leery of the county's
The rezoning of 87 acres will allow local developer Tricord Inc. to
create an age-restricted, clustered subdivision of nearly 300 homes
dubbed Chancellorsville Hunt. In turn, Tricord will sell 143 acres of
battlefield land to the Trust. Campi said the Trust expects to close
on the property in early December.
Tricord recently contracted to buy 227 acres from landowner John
Mullins for $12.5 million. They are selling the 143 acres to the
Trust for $3 million. The land fronts Route 3 east of the battlefield
park, and the Trust is planning for a 1,000-foot buffer along the
highway to screen Tricord's subdivision from view.
Campi noted that the wooded screen would appropriately reflect the
nature of the landscape at the time of the war, when the land was
open farm fields along the road but there was significant woodland in
Fifty-five acres of Tricord's 227 acres is zoned for commercial use.
But as part of the deal Tricord has agreed to give up that right, and
the land will be preserved. Of Tricord's remaining acreage, 85 acres
fronting the north side of Route 3 will be protected and 87 acres
farther to the north will be developed.
Campi said the rezoning was pressed forward hurriedly because
Tricord's option with Mullins was due to expire at the end of the
year. The $12.5 million price tag is so high, Campi added, that
Tricord had to have the rezoning approved in order to make the deal
The Trust is appealing to members to help pay for the purchase. Campi
said the acquisition was "just the beginning," however. The Trust
hopes to install signs, a walking trail and possibly an informational
kiosk in about a year. Donors who give $50 or more to the land
purchase will have their names placed on a battlefield plaque.
Also, the Trust has scheduled a tree-planting on the new property
during the nonprofit's annual Park Day on April 2. Volunteers will
start the replanting of a stand of trees that will recapture the
wartime look of the land.
Campi pointed out that the 143 acres is about 100 acres short of the
total needed to protect the core battlefield on the Mullins Farm. In
late October the Trust sent a letter to Toll Brothers, the
Pennsylvania-based homebuilder that has purchased 566 acres from
Mullins and plans to go ahead with a major subdivision of
Campi said the Trust is hoping that Toll will agree to sell about 100
acres of battlefield land, which would enable the Trust to extend the
1,000-foot buffer farther along Route 3. At present, Toll's
homebuilding would be highly visible from the highway and immediately
adjacent to the battlefield park, Campi said.