View Full Version : Williamsburg, A Call to Arms

09-15-2009, 11:02 AM
A Call to Arms

In light of recent events in Orange County I hope this finds everyone willing to step up. While recently researching property in Williamsburg for an interpretive walking tour I stumbled across 331 acres of CORE battlefield area which are slated for development. This property is confirmed by the American Battlefield Protection Program, CWSAC as core battlefield area. Engaged here;

CS; 8,9,10 Alabama. 19th Mississippi. 1,7,8,11,19th Virginia. 14th Louisiana.

Us; 70,71,72,73 New York. 6,7, 8th New Jersey. And other elements to be determined.

Forces Engaged: 72,591 total (US 40,768;CS 31,823)
Estimated Casualties: 3,843 total (US 2,283; CS 1,560)

The property is on the right of Longstreet’s line wherein the Federal attack under Heintzelman, Hooker, and Kearny fails and is counter attacked by Longstreet, Anderson, and Wilcox. There were 3 major portions of fighting on that rainy day this being one of the most pristine pieces of property left.

It currently abuts a Williamsburg park which has preserved the original redoubts. The land is wooded and relatively untouched.

Here is the deal: On September 16, 2009, the Williamsburg planning commission (yeah, talk about timing) meets to talk about the proposed development. At this moment the little information which I could get said a hospital (there is one 6 miles from the site) assisted living home (there are 9 near the site) as well as apartments, single family homes, and commercial development are slated to take up the two parcels of land.

In October, a public meeting will be held and sometime thereafter the Council and hopefully another meeting will decide on whether or not to allow the development of this parcel of land.

In light of the recent negative developments in Orange County but with the positive events of preservation of battlefields throughout the country, I believe there is a lot of inertia for Preservation and sympathy for our battlefields and cultural resources. I have already placed calls already to the Civil War Preservation Trust, and the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. It is my intention to provide the interested people here with the contact information for the supervisors and planning commission so that we as a community can voice our frustration with the plan before it gets to far along in the planning process. As we have learned, we must be at the forefront of the planning process. Both an e-mail and letter writing campaign for those far away would be very beneficial as well as those interested in writing editorials. Lastly, if it is possible, I would hope to see a group of concerned and education preservationists and Civil War enthusiasts attend the public meetings to express our concerns.

As a community, we are in perfect shape to stop this dead in the tracks. We are coming off a major nationality publicized preservation issue. This issue is in its infancy not at an advanced stage. I believe that if we push early we may see the long lasting results in our favor.

Please PM me with your valid EMAIL address, location, interest and or phone number.

Most Respectfully

Drew A Gruber

josie wales
09-15-2009, 11:27 AM
BBB, PM sent, JW

09-19-2009, 02:04 PM
A vast amount of research has been done by me and the dozen or so folks working on the issue down here. This is the most recent update.

The proposal by Riverside Healthcare includes combining two large pieces of property totaling 337 acres. The northern portion of property which is the smaller of the two lies completely within the Core battlefield boundary. This 116 acre lot is slated to be developed into approximately 1,300 mixed density dwelling units. The larger of the two pieces of property is 215 acres is slated for the following:
“a 150 bed hospital, 200,000 square feet of medical offices, a 120 bed nursing home, 95 single family dwellings, 397 “senior adult attached dwellings,” 882 condominium and townhouse units, 202,000 square feet of offices, and 400,000 square feet of shopping center.”

A great number of people who have considerable experience in the management of cultural resources are onboard now. After conversing with several leading preservation organizations, politicians, local historians and local people they are all reiterating to me that there is a golden, unprecedented opportunity for the civil war community to bind together before the issue is decided. The best part about the proposal is that the property is actually two lots which combined make up the significant core battlefield area. That being said it is possible to push a smart-growth plan. With some participation and a little thinking we as a community can chime in and promote the use of the larger 215 acre southern portion of property to support the necessary medical facilities and push for the conservation of the 116 acre northern property and northeast corner of the large 215 acre property. Many of the locals are concerned about the non-medical uses due to the foreclosures and unsold residential and commercial properties already within the city.

There are a number of routes which can be taken for those people outside of the region. It is imperative that this is all done prior to the council and commission meetings. Do not think that your opinions hold no clout, the tourist dollar and potential for poor national PR will keep the decision makers on their toes. This is especially true in the tourist driven economy we have here in Williamsburg. Many locals have committed to going to the series of meetings which will take place in October and November. Six round tables or individuals have committed to writing editorials, which is something that needs to be done and should be written by preservation minded historians such as ourselves. Besides submission of these to the local papers, writing the planning commission and city council is of the utmost importance.

Therefore I will reiterate. 337 acres of undisputed core battlefield area from the May 5th 1862 battle of Williamsburg is in danger. Unlike the Wilderness Wal-mart controversy the planning commission and city council have not yet met to vote upon this. Many national and state organizations are aware of the impeding destruction and are acting in their capacities. Again this is the only remaining portion of core battlefield are left.

I am able to provide the contact information for the aforementioned City planners and council members for those interested parties, as well as the contact for the local paper editors. I’d like to encourage our community to get involved now; in fact it’s imperative we do. Lastly if there is indeed no interest, I will stop updating by Wednesday.

Attached are some maps yet again. These being blown up so that you are able to see how the property is divided and where the boys went in.

bob 125th nysvi
10-02-2009, 06:34 PM
or do you just want to deny the property owner the right to do with their property what they legally want to do with it?

If you are using the ole this is for the greater good argument then go away because that is the same one a government in CT used to condemn a bunch of privately owned water front homes so the property could be sold to a developer to put up high-end condos and retail space.

The "greater good" was served because the government could collect more taxes on it than the current home owners were paying.

If you are trying to buy the property then I'm all for you, if you are trying to deny someone their private property rights then forget it.

10-03-2009, 09:29 PM

"The best part about the proposal is that the property is actually two lots which combined make up the significant core battlefield area. That being said it is possible to push a smart-growth plan. With some participation and a little thinking we as a community can chime in and promote the use of the larger 215 acre southern portion of property to support the necessary medical facilities and push for the conservation of the 116 acre northern property and northeast corner of the large 215 acre property."

The issue in CT was an abuse of the city council/government and should have gone to court. That has nothing to do with this.

A smart growth proposal affording the developer what he wants in relationship to what can be sustained in the local economy is in question. A side note is that these are the last acres of Williamsburg battlefield. Battlefield or not, growth issues and sprawl are concerns which need to be raised and in some cases checked to prevent the build out of localities. Property values plummet once green space is gone, vacant store fronts due to over construction lead to overbuilding of infrastructure which lead to lost tax revenues to support previous schools, eventually with the entire burden falling on the land owner and all his neighbors. Bottom line, smart growth is important- best part we can use battlefields and their significance and status as a non renewable resource to help get the best possible use of a space. Let it go willy-nilly without any regulation or consideration for resources and you end up with New Jersey. (Yes im from there originally) That all being said private property rights are important and are considered but there are tools, methods, abilities and plans which can both compensate and provide for the land owner, the neighbor, the community and the nation as a whole. Or you could just go away and end up with a concrete and asphalt empty blighted county replete with no historical integrity or open space.

Transfer of development rights are possible, which would not withhold any development rights. Being partially suppressed in the planning stages- therefore saving a company from clear cutting land only to go belly up, before, during or after construction saves jobs, a business, tax revenue and in this case the last bit of an all but forgotten battle. By the way May 5th was a rough day for New Yorkers.

10-03-2009, 11:08 PM
Dear Drew:

I"m interested in hearing the latest developments and doing what's possible to help.

Please keep posting.

Karin Timour
Period Knitting -- Socks, Sleeping Hats, Balaclavas
Atlantic Guard Soldiers' Aid Society
Email: Ktimour@aol.com

10-25-2009, 07:16 PM
The Williamsburg Planning Commission approved the Right of Way at their meeting last Wednesday. They stated however that they received many e-mails from residents & non-residents who were concerned about the property. They stated that archaeology was being done and that they were happy that redoubt park was being saved. (This was done a number of years ago) While these are both positive they seem to be using redoubt park as the excuse to develop these acres and are essentially either ignoring or are ignorant to the archaeology being done there. This leaves us in the same place since my last update only with a little bit of a harder fight now that some infastructure has been approved. There will be two meetings in the future to discuss the property both should offer a public venue. First the Planning Commission meeting then the City Council who will render the final vote. Again please forward this onto any interested parties and Id be happy to add or subtract anyone from this e-mail list. Lastly editorials are going to help alot. If anyone is interested in doing so and would like more information on the issue please let me know. Newspaper editorials will help spread the word and get more people involved.

I cant stress enough to this community and forum that we are in a great position to stop this dead in the water, well before its too late.

alton woods
11-19-2009, 03:19 PM
This sounds great...what's next...what needs to be done....:p

11-20-2009, 10:56 PM
? any updates ?

11-21-2009, 12:46 PM
The cold hard truth is that residential development, houses and apartments, rarely carries its own weight in taxes. Residential generates more demand for services than the properties generate in taxes, usually because of schools but also, these days, because houses sold to people who can't afford them leads to economic crisis, which leads to family squabbles, which leads to domestic abuse, which leads to police, courts and social services -- all born by the taxpayers who were there before a private developer came in to "help your economy with growth." Check anywhere. The exceptions are rare, high-end development of million-dollar homes by people who have already raised their families. All the rest, the taxpayers who are there now are subsidizing private developers.

I'm not sure that's the "free enterprise" model everyone has in mind to support. Certainly someone has the right to do what he wants with his land; does he have the right to do something with it that the rest of us have to subsidize?

In some areas where growth is out of control, the cheapest thing to do with private land is buy it as open space and keep anyone from building on it. It generates no taxes; it also generates no demands for expensive services. If developed, it can generate a need for services costing 10 times what the property will ever pay in local taxes.

It extends to some commercial and industrial. If the cost of letting a developer exceed a 60-foot height limit in a small town is taxpayers shelling out $400,000 for a newer aerial ladder, who just got bit on the backside?

Those folks up the road who used eminent domain a few years ago to let their political cronies redevelop a neighborhood to harvest higher taxes deserve to be horsewhipped and run out of town on a rail. They burned the people who were there and they will burn the people left behind who will be paying more taxes no matter what the scam artists say.

It's a complicated issue in those terms. It's a lot simpler for me. My ggf was in that mess with the 7th NJVI, so I do indeed have a dog in the fight. Drew, who should I bite?

11-21-2009, 04:03 PM
? again are there any updates ?

11-29-2009, 09:06 AM
We have bought significant time concerning the issue. The planning commission and city council have delayed the public meeting process a few times. The best option will be to PM me here and I will put you on the e-mail list. Editorials need to be written to help bring more light to this issue.

11-29-2009, 09:34 AM
Keep up the fight.....a cordial bump to keep this topic fresh;)