The Washington Times - August 21, 2009, 04:33PM

In a different move Thursday night, the Orange County Planning Commission seemed to reverse itself, in effect voting to recommend the denial of the Walmart Superstore which has been bedeviling the Wilderness Battlefield folk for some time.

The commission reached a tie vote, 4-4, when the motion to recommend approval of the developer’s application to obtain a special use permit for the store.  Since the motion failed to pass, it becomes the same as a denial of the permit, according to County Attorney Sharon Pandak.  Pandak stated that this was unfortunate, “because [the lack of a clear vote] doesn’t send a clear message to the Board of Supervisors.”

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It may be all for naught on Monday night when the Supervisors hold their meeting, since three of the five have already said they will vote for the permit.

Residents and others saw the proposed store in two ways. One side felt that the incremental increase in traffic in the relatively small area would present a definite adverse condition.  Some two-thirds of those present expressed dislike of the issuance of the permit allowing the store. Others felt that its services would be welcomed by the community, and the presence of more jobs could not be overlooked in the current economic crisis times.

Many stated that they were not opposed to a Walmart in some location, but they deeply resented its proposed placement.  It would be a 138,000 sq. foot store on a 52 acre site only a fourth of a mile north of State Routes 3 and 20 and the Fredericksburg and Spottylvania National Military Park.   The development plans don’t end there, as additional retail development proposed would add 98,750 sq.ft. of development to the area near the historic Battle of the Wilderness site.

Despite numerous meetings, the Walmart officials have attempted to convince the county that there is no other commercially zoned property with suitable traffic access, interesting since high traffic remains one of the most stated concerns.

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Reid Zacharias and Robin Knepper have extensive articles on this matter in the Fredericksburg Lance-Star papers, Fredericksburg, Va.