08 September 2008 by Published in: Battlefield preservation 1 comment

From the September 5 edition of Winchester Star newspaper, it appears that the fight against the mining company is heating up at Cedar Creek. The National Trust for Historic Preservation, unlike the Cedar Creek Battlefield Association, has stepped up to the plate to use the courts to try to prevent the demolition of the battlefield’s viewshed. The Association unfortunately sold its soul for eight lousy acres of marginal land.

National Trust seeks to join quarry litigation
By Erica M. Stocks

Winchester Star (VA)

Winchester — The National Trust for Historic Preservation is seeking to join 20 local property owners in challenging the Frederick County Board of Supervisors’ decision to allow the expansion of a Middletown quarry.

The trust filed a motion in Frederick County Circuit Court last week asking to intervene as a co-plaintiff in the landowners’ complaint, which questions the supervisors’ approval of a request from O-N Minerals Chemstone to rezone 394 acres to the north and south of its quarry from Rural Areas to Extractive Manufacturing

The rezoning, which will allow the company to mine high-grade limestone from property that it owns, was approved in May.

Opponents of the rezoning, including the National Trust, have argued that the quarry’s expanded operations will threaten nearby historical sites, including the Cedar Creek Civil War battlefield and Belle Grove National Historical Park.

The trust owns Belle Grove, which is open to the public as a 283-acre historical site. The property is within the boundaries of the Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park south of Middletown.

“We have a lot of concerns, not just as a property owner, but as the manager of a historic site open to the public,” Elizabeth Merritt, deputy general counsel for the National Trust, said in a phone interview Thursday.

Twenty people who own adjoining land, or land within 1,500 feet of of the Chemstone property, filed a complaint in Frederick County Circuit Court in June, asking that the court declare the rezoning decision of the Board of Supervisors void because it did not comply with state laws.

“Plaintiffs request that this Honorable Court declare that the zoning decision by the Board was improperly advertised; that it violated the law of Virginia; that the board had no jurisdiction or authority to act on May 28, 2008, on the rezoning; that the rezoning is null and void and of no effect,” the complaint states.

Merritt said the property owners’ complaint raises a number of issues that National Trust officials also think are important.

“We wanted to express our support and make it clear that we are directly supporting them,” she said of the organization’s decision to sign on as a co-plaintiff.

In its motion filed last week, the trust states that the expanded mining operation will consume nearly 400 acres of land on the battlefield property, potentially leading to direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts on the historical park.

“The National Trust, like the existing plaintiffs, seeks a determination by the Court that the rezoning decision is unlawful, and therefore null and void,” the organization states in its motion.

Merritt said the Board of Supervisors specifically failed to provide the type of public access and notice required by the county’s bylaws in approving the rezoning request of O-N Minerals Chemstone, a subsidiary of Carmeuse Lime & Stone based in Belgium. “It raises a number of procedural concerns,” she said.

The property owners’ complaint, as well as the National Trust’s decision to intervene, is in its early stages, Merritt said. “At this point, nothing has really happened.”

Nord Wennerstrom, director of communications for the trust, said Thursday that the rezoning is not an issue his organization takes lightly.

“Belle Grove has been a historical trust site for 44 years, so it’s important,” he said in a telephone interview.

In June, trust and Belle Grove officials announced that they were ending their involvement with the Cedar Creek Battlefield Association because of the foundation’s failure to fight the quarry expansion.

Belle Grove Inc. said that in April, the foundation reversed its previous opposition to the expansion and arranged with the quarry owner to accept a land gift of eight acres.

Kudos to Belle Grove and the National Trust for taking a stand and in particular for taking a stand against the traitors at the CCBA, who have abdicated the sacred trust entrusted to them.

Scridb filter


  1. Mon 19th Jan 2009 at 4:19 pm

    After reviewing this article, it’s the CCBF, and they are a volunteer board of caring preservationists, and they did not sell out to anyone or anything for 8 acres. That acreage is going to Belle Grove. There is over 220+ acres that will be preserved, interpreted and put under conservation easement. You need to contact folks who have both sides of the story- equality and diplomacy are the keys to success and to good partnerships. Pointing fingers and name calling is not the key, but rather, the breakdown of a solid foundation that has been strong in moving forward in preservation in the Valley until now. The partners are resolving their differences and there will be positive movement forward again in the near future.

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