Wilderness Crossing is an approved 2,600-acre rezoning and proposed development in Orange County near the intersection of Rt. 3 and Rt. 20 adjacent to Wilderness Battlefield and across from Lake of the Woods. On April 25, 2023, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the rezoning request, making it the largest land rezoning in County history.
In addition to concerns about industrial development (data centers and distribution centers), taxes, infrastructure (water and sewer), traffic, and habitat fragmentation, Wilderness Crossing is also the site of numerous unreclaimed gold mines—essentially, mines that have never been closed off and cleaned up of contaminants such as mercury, arsenic, cadmium and lead. The largest mine on the property, called the Vaucluse mine, was at one time considered for potential inclusion as an EPA Superfund site. Since it was never cleaned up, the tailings pit is likely still leaching toxic chemicals into Shotgun Hill Branch today and is an expected source of contamination in Wilderness Run, and ultimately, the Rapidan and Rappahannock rivers. PEC recommends that Orange County seriously consider how the toxic legacy of gold mining at this location could impact the health, safety and welfare of future residents and downstream communities.
PEC has been following the Wilderness Crossing proposal since the application was first submitted by developer KEG Associates III in March of 2021. Along with our partners in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, we will continue to monitor this project closely to keep local residents informed and to push the County for rigorous review of any related, future permits or requests as the developer moves forward.