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 Posted: Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 08:06 pm
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Old Sorrel
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Park development raises concerns

by The Associated Press
 
When the heck is it going to stop. More land under threat! Im begining to hate developers just as much as Lawyers and Politicians.


 
 HARPERS FERRY -- Development of 683 acres around an abandoned limestone quarry would seriously damage what the superintendent of Harpers Ferry National Historic Park calls hallowed ground, he says.
"I think it would be a desecration of the national park,'' Superintendent Don Campbell said of the proposed construction of residential and commercial lots.
Earlier this month, the Civil War Preservation Trust named the battleground at Harpers Ferry one of the nation's 10 most endangered sites. It was added after a developer dug 45-foot-wide trenches for water and sewer lines that would serve thousands of new homes.
Harpers Ferry -- best known for John Brown's failed effort to arm and free local slaves -- changed hands eight times during the Civil War and was the site of an 1862 battle in which Confederate Maj. Gen. Thomas "Stonewall'' Jackson won the surrender of some 12,500 Union troops.
James P. Campbell, a Leesburg, Va., lawyer for the developers, has been trying to persuade Charles Town City Council to annex the land near Millville Road and U.S. 340, which he described this week as unsightly and "moonlike.''
Though the land could be used for dense residential development, Campbell's clients are proposing only 200 homes.
There are three developers: Old Standard LLC, which the Secretary of State's Web site says is run by James Crawford of Charles Town and Herb Jonkers of Millwood, Va.; and Bugler's Rest LLC and Alstadt's Corner LLC, for whom the state has no online records.
To encourage economic development, Campbell's clients also propose more than 2 million square feet of office and retail space on seven sites, with low-rise office buildings, a 150-room hotel and a 22,500-square-foot conference center.
Campbell said that could create 6,000 jobs and additional tax revenue for Jefferson County.
The annexation request drew opposition at a public meeting earlier this month, and Charles Town Mayor Peggy Smith said the site is too far from town -- about 5 miles -- to be a good candidate.
Action on the annexation request was delayed March 21 by a faulty description of the site in a petition, but the Charles Town Planning Commission may discuss it Monday night. City Council will meet afterward.
The quarry accounts for about 25 percent of the land being considered for annexation; relatively undisturbed battlefield land accounts for the rest.
That land was set aside for the American public, and the park superintendent said he does not trust developers to respect its historic integrity.
In other area developments, "darn near every tree and every blade of grass is cut down,'' Superintendent Campbell said. "They practice pretty heavy-handed development.''















 Posted: Tue Apr 3rd, 2007 10:06 pm
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javal1
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Good news on that front. We'll be running this tomorrow....

Town Votes Down Annexation Request by Developers Near Harpers Ferry
WV--City Council has rejected a request from developers to annex a 683-acre property that was the site of a Civil War battle. Council members voted 4-3 Monday against the annexation of the property near Millville Road and U.S. 340, just hours after the city's Planning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend approval of the annexation. Old Standard LLC, Bugler's Rest LLC and Alstadt's Corner LLC want to build 200 houses, low-rise office buildings, a 150-room hotel and a 22,500-square-foot conference center on the property, which is located around an abandoned limestone quarry. (Offsite: Charleston WV Daily Mail)



 Posted: Wed Apr 4th, 2007 03:32 am
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Widow
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I wonder if any of those three developers had anything to do with that illegal utility trench dug on Schoolhouse Ridge, as mentioned in the Park Superintendent's comment.  That trench was on Park property, flatly and plainly trespassing at the very least.

The guy responsible can hardly claim he didn't know it was wrong, because it was dug in the middle of the night, on a weekend, I believe.  Um, if you think it's OK and legal, why dig in the dark?

I'm glad the Charles Town council voted it down.  There are some places where more development is helpful and solves some problems.  But not historic sites.  Not even near historic sites.

I've recently learned a new word (new to me, that is):  viewshed.  Has to do with observation towers and quarries and such on the periphery of a designated historic or scenic site.

Example:  The National Park Service has the George Washington Memorial Parkway on the Virginia side of the Potomac from Mount Vernon north to the Capital Beltway, and, across the river in the District and Montgomery County, MD, the Clara Barton Parkway.  The parkways are heavily used as commuter roads, but they are maintained as parkways.  The NPS mows along the roadsides, but otherwise the vegetation is left as natural as possible.

Last year, Dan Snyder, the boy billionaire who owns the Washington Redskins, somehow got the NPS to cut down its trees because they blocked his view of the Potomac from his house.  It was barely legal.  But once again, Danny Boy angered and alienated people who already are unhappy about what he's done to the Redskins.  Guy has no PR sense at all.  Hey, Dan, the trees were there before you bought, so if you didn't like the view, why did you buy the house?

Now, from the Virginia side, we can see his house instead of the nice tree cover like the rest of the Clara Barton Parkway.  So much for protecting the viewshed.

Patty



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 Posted: Wed Apr 4th, 2007 02:48 pm
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David White
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It is good news but it is disturbing that it seems the fact the land had a Civil War connection was not a determining factor in saving it by a narrow vote, rather it was traffic concerns.



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 Posted: Wed Apr 4th, 2007 05:10 pm
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David White
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Indy:

Now I'm going to be a wisenheimer and ask a rhetorical question: if the locals had decided the other way, do we (the national CW community) just accept it since they have the immediate responsibility for saving it?

I know the answer for both of us.

Last edited on Wed Apr 4th, 2007 05:12 pm by David White



 Posted: Wed Apr 4th, 2007 05:31 pm
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Widow
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David White wrote:

It is good news but it is disturbing that it seems the fact the land had a Civil War connection was not a determining factor in saving it by a narrow vote, rather it was traffic concerns.David, increased traffic is far easier to measure than historic value.  So perhaps the Charles Town council members chose the traffic issue as a means of saving the historic site, but in such a way that they could say "Hey, we're trying to save the place from being overrun by sprawl, pollution, etc."  Taxpaying voters can understand that explanation.

I think we both agree with indy that a win's a win.

Patty



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