04 April 2008 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 2 comments

Good news from Perryville!!!

Perryville rejects subdivision zoning near battlefield
By Greg Kocher

Lexington Hearld-Leader (KY)

PERRYVILLE — By a 4-1 vote Thursday night, the Perryville City Council rejected a proposed subdivision that would have been near Kentucky’s largest Civil War battlefield. “I’m relieved,” said Sherry Robinson, a member of the United Daughters of the Confederacy, who had spoken against the proposal. “Right now, we’re ecstatic.”

Marion “Pete” Coyle Jr., the landowner who had wanted to develop a portion of his farm on U.S. 150 just west of downtown Perryville, had little comment after the vote.

“I’m upset right now,” Coyle said as he left City Hall.

Had the council approved the rezoning, Coyle could have put 53 single-family houses, an assisted living center and two commercial highway businesses on 34 acres.

But the proposal came under fire from Civil War re-enactors and preservationists who feared the rezoning would only open more farmland around the battlefield to development. At last count, city hall had received 169 telephone calls, many from re-enactors around the country who opposed the development. Re-enactors say Perryville remains relatively unspoiled and appears much as it would have to its original combatants.

“We have to continue to protect this land, because if we don’t there’s a strong possibilty it may rear its head again,” said Union re-enactor Chad Greene of Perryville.

The proposed rezoning prompted the Civil War Preservation Trust, a non-profit group in Washington D.C., to put Perryville on its Top 10 list of endangered battlefields last month.

Some 7,500 were killed or wounded in the October 1862 Battle of Perryville. It was a tactical Confederate victory, but Kentucky remained in Union hands for the rest of the war. Perryville council member Sheila Cox recalled those soldiers while reading a written statement about her support for Coyle’s proposal.

“I would hope to think that the soldiers that lost their lives for rights and freedom did not intend for us not to grow and make progress,” Cox said.

She added: “The battlefield and the city of Perryville both need to understand that each other have got to give and take in order to survive. The Coyle proposal has taken great pains in seeing that the plans include the best interests of both parties.”

But council member Georgeanne Edwards said Coyle had failed to demonstrate a need for the rezoning. And she said there was no evidence of any major economic, social or physical changes to the area that might warrant a zone change.

“Also, the development is not compatible with the efforts to preserve the Perryville battlefield, and the historically significant land surrounding the battlefield,” Edwards said.

On the vote to reject the rezoning, council members Edwards, Bill Chance, Julie Clay and Dawn Hastings voted yes, and Cox voted no. Council member Phillip Crowe was absent. Mayor Anne Sleet was not permitted to vote because she is not a member of the legislative body.

Troops did not fight on the Coyle property. However, Old Mackville Road, used by both Confederate and Union soldiers as they went to and from the battlefield, crosses through the property.

Last fall Coyle had preliminary talks with the state Parks Department, which wanted to purchase an easement for the old road and turn it into a walking trail.

But those talks stalled when Gov. Steve Beshear shifted $29 million in bond money to the Kentucky Horse Park for preparations for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

Council member Clay said she was encouraged that Coyle wanted to preserve the Old Mackville Road corridor.

“I think that’s something we should look into,” Clay said. “We do receive a lot of visitors to the battlefield. And I think walking the land that the soldiers walked would be an interesting and agreeable thing to promote.”

Good news indeed. Thanks to everyone who called after reading about this situation on this blog. Together we prove the power we have to preserve hallowed ground.

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  1. Sat 05th Apr 2008 at 4:39 pm

    This is really welcome news for everyone interested in battlefield preservation. Perryville is pristine, and it needs to stay that way.

    The preservation movement has come a long way since more than a decade ago, when a few souls offered the misguided notion that we should all work with Disney to help destroy the view shed around Bull Run/Manassas, but at least have a hand in determining how much was destroyed. No! A steadfast defensive front, with an aggressive counter-attacking strategy is called for everywhere.

    Support Civil War Preservation Trust (CWPT) and every opportunity you can to save this precious acreage.

    Congratulations to everyone on this important “yes we can” victory.

    Theodore P. Savas
    Savas Beatie LLC
    989 Governor Drive, Suite 102
    El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
    916.941.6896 (Voice)
    916-941.6895 (Fax)

    Join us online for some publishing blogspeak at
    http://www.savasbeatie.blogspot.com and http://savasbeatiemarketing.blogspot.com/

  2. Sean Dail
    Sun 06th Apr 2008 at 5:55 pm

    Bravo, Ted. Somewhere our old friend Jerry Russell is smiles on you.


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