In somewhat of a surprise, county planners in northern Virginia have voted to oppose the development of a Wal-Mart Supercenter on hallowed land abutting the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. But that's only a temporary victory for those who oppose the project.
During a hearing Thursday night in Orange, Virginia, the planners were deadlocked, 4-4, on a motion to approve the project. Under the planning commission's procedures, such a vote is the same as a denial. However, the county's Board of Supervisors considers the project on Monday, and it is not bound by the planning commission's position.
Wal-Mart's plan is to develop a 53-to-55-acre tract of land just north of the Wilderness Corner intersection in Orange, Virginia. Part of the proposed development would hold a Supercenter covering nearly 140,000 square feet, with enough room left over for additional retail outlets. While that land is not part of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, it is, historically, part of the Wilderness Battlefield.
According to the National Park Service, the Battle of the Wilderness was fought on May 5-6, 1864, with troops under both Union General Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate General Robert E. Lee engaged. "It was the beginning of the Overland Campaign, the bloodiest campaign in American history and the turning point in the war in the Eastern Theatre," notes the agency.