The following text was sent out via email on September 16, 2022. Sign up for PEC email alerts →
It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me about Wilderness Crossing, the massive 2,600-acre development proposed for the intersection of Rte. 3 and Rte. 20 next to Wilderness Battlefield. I’ve been monitoring the project for several months, as it has slowly made its way through the county application process. Now, the developer is finally holding a community briefing, and I want to make sure the word gets out. It will be at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, at Locust Grove Middle School (in the cafeteria).
This event is a chance to ask the developer tough questions in advance of a formal public hearing before the Orange County Planning Commission, which could happen as soon as October.
Much of the proposal remains the same, but the developer (KEG Associates III) has clarified two previous points of uncertainty. First, they have specified that the maximum number of residential units at buildout would be 6,500 (for context, there are about 16,000 homes in all of Orange County, and the largest development, Lake of the Woods, is around 4,200 homes). Second, they’ve clarified they are planning for around 750,000 square feet of commercial and industrial space (for context, the Locust Grove Walmart is just over 129,000 square feet).
The new application and associated resources have been posted on the Orange County website.
What’s the Problem?
We continue to believe this project is oversized, in the wrong place and poorly designed — reminiscent of many of the more cookie-cutter developments found in Northern Virginia and along the I-95 corridor. It would reduce open space, wildlife habitat, and riparian buffers along the Rapidan River, and increase traffic and county-wide taxes.
Most concerning, it poses a significant risk to the public health and safety of both existing and future Orange County residents due to numerous unreclaimed, mercury-contaminated gold mines across the site.
Our understanding from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality is that cleanup for these “orphan mines” can only be achieved if the applicant enters DEQ’s Voluntary Remediation Program. Given this, Orange County should not even consider this proposal until the contamination has been certified as remediated by the department.
I plan on attending the developer’s meeting on the 22nd, and hope to see you there. Within the next few weeks, I’ll also be reaching out to share more analysis of the proposal, upcoming key dates and ways you can get involved.
In the meantime, I encourage you to check out PEC’s prior updates on Wilderness Crossing at pecva.org/wilderness-crossing.
Orange County Field Representative