Walmart Near the Wilderness—Update

Site near the intersection of Routes 3 and 20, adjacent to the Wilderness Battlefield, where Walmart originally proposed construction

Word out of the Wilderness today about Walmart.

For years, the Wilderness was the site of a bitter struggle between developers and preservationists over the proposed construction of a Walmart supercenter—a fight that drew national attention. Earlier this year, the retailer made a dramatic 180 and gave up its effort to build on a 51-acre plot adjacent to Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park (FSNMP).

Instead, Walmart set its eyes on a spot farther down State Route 3—about four miles from the Wilderness Battlefield. Last night, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a special-use permit for Walmart so it can move forward with construction.

FSNMP Superintendent Russ Smith has said all along that the park didn’t oppose the construction of a Walmart—just a Walmart at the originally proposed location because of its proximity to the Wilderness, where Union General Ulysses S. Grant first squared off against Robert E. Lee.

“We are still working on a Wilderness Gateway Concept for sensitive development of the 3,000 acres surrounding the original site,” Smith says. (More info on that can be found here.)

According to an article by the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star’s Robin Knepper, “The nod comes a week after the county’s Planning Commission gave the giant retailer its approval, also unanimously, and recommending the Board of Supervisors do the same.”

Knepper says the proposed 128,581-square-foot store will be built on a 14-acre site centered in a 30-acre retail development area slated for the intersection of Route 3 and Somerset Ridge Road (State Route 708).

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