A brief update on Wilderness Crossing and some related Orange County happenings.
On May 24, 2023, the American Battlefield Trust, Central Virginia Battlefields Trust, Inc., Friends of Wilderness Battlefield, Inc., and a number of Orange County and Spotsylvania County residents filed a legal challenge to the recent approval by the Orange County Board of Supervisors of the rezoning of 2,600 acres in the county, known as Wilderness Crossing, at the gateway to the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park. The lawsuit cites several violations of state constitutional and statutory law and county zoning ordinance, including procedural errors, lack of required submittals and findings, and failure to comply with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, among other errors.
Even after 18 months, it is still unclear what the applicant has planned for the 2,618 acres of land included in the Wilderness Crossing rezoning proposal — still unremediated of toxic hazards from historic gold mining activities. The details have continued to change, and most recently, the number of homes has been reduced from 6,500 to 5,000 while the industrial square footage has increased by almost five times. Additionally, a variety of industrial uses, including data centers and warehouse/distribution centers, would now be allowed by-right.
The Planning Commission recently held its fifth and final work session for Wilderness Crossing on March 2, which means the application is now headed to a public hearing on Thursday, March 23, 2023.
Read our joint letter with the Southern Environmental Law Center in advance of the Orange County Planning Commission’s third work session on REZ 22-03, Wilderness Crossing.
While the applicant’s current proffer language agreeing to ‘enter’ DEQ’s Voluntary Remediation Program represents some positive movement (as recently as September, the applicant was stating publicly that they have “no knowledge” of contaminants on site), PEC and our partners at SELC believe this language does not go far enough to ensure that the contaminated site will be cleaned up.