- Report Published -
|Brandy Station Battlefield and Bristoe Station Battlefield|
|Department of Historic Resources|
|SB 514 (Regular Session, 1992)|
|The Department of Historic Resources has completed a study of several questions related to the Board of Historic Resources' previous designations of the Brandy Station Battlefield in Culpeper and Fauquier counties and the Bristoe Station Battlefield in Prince William County as Virginia Historic Landmarks. Pursuant to S 514, passed by the 1992 General Assembly of Virginia, the study addressed the following issues:|
1. An examination of (i) all land uses permitted by existing zoning within the designated areas, (ii) possible land uses pursuant to any zoning changes currently contemplated by the counties or indicated by their current master plans, and (iii) all development proposals made known to the Department of Historic Resources by the counties or by the property owners;
2. An identification of those development proposals that may by necessity or choice be dependent upon federal funding or licensure, and thus subject to the consultation process required by Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and, to the extent practicable, an identification of probable outcomes of that consultation process and of possible strategies for successful resolution of any disagreements;
3. An analysis of the Virginia Department of Transportation's continuing ability to meet existing transportation needs, as well as those needs created by anticipated development, in the historic districts;
4. An identification of any smaller areas within the designated historic districts that the Department of Historic Resources believes should be high priority areas for preservation and an identification of strategies for accomplishing that preservation in a manner that is fair to current property owners; and
5. An examination of the documentary information that led to the designation and of any new or additional documentary information presented to the Department, in order to determine whether either or both of the designations or the boundaries of the historic districts were based on any error of fact and whether these findings provide grounds for recommending that the designations be amended or withdrawn;
6. An analysis of whether either or both of the designations by the Board of Historic Resources of the battlefields as historic districts, or the determinations of eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places made by the National Park Service pursuant to the National Historic Preservation Act, should be amended or withdrawn as the development identified in item 2 is carried out.
In gathering information and gauging public opinion on the full range of questions presented to its staff for study, the Department consulted closely with the local governments and the property owners affected by the two previous designations.
What Conclusions Does the Department Draw from Its Findings?
While the Department believes the Board's previous designations of the Brandy Station and Bristoe Station battlefield were based on accurate historical research, it acknowledges that there appears to remain strong opposition to the scope of the previous designations within the affected communities. Consultation with local residents has so far failed to identify any workable alternative resource-based designations that would have the support of a majority of the affected property owners.
In the event that the current designations are removed due to owner objection, the Department has no plans to prepare or sponsor alternative designation proposals. However, the -Department will present to the Board of Historic Resources for serious consideration any alternative resource-based designation proposal that is prepared by property owners or other interested parties.
Whatever may be the result of efforts to identify and designate the entire Brandy Station Battlefield or the Bristoe Station Battlefield, the Department affirms that land-use planning for preservation is the province of local government. While consultation with local residents has so far failed to identify any overall agreement on preservation strategies for the battlefields, the Department commends Culpeper County, Fauquier County and Prince William County for acknowledging the importance of historic resources in their community planning and encourages them in their efforts to develop planning strategies that are sensitive in some measure to the battlefields.
A detailed plan initiated by local government for managing preservation and development within the Brandy Station Battlefield could serve as the basis for private preservation initiatives, for review of federal undertakings under the 106 review process, and for VDOT's planning.
The proposed establishment of a sector plan for the Bristow area of Prince William would appear to present a timely opportunity to develop appropriate goals, objectives and performance criteria for preservation and development within. the Bristoe Station Battlefield and the larger sector of which it is an important element.
While the Department cannot recommend any alternate designations to the Board for its consideration at this time, the Department recommends that the Board take the opportunity of its reconsideration to remove the state historic landmark designations from the Brandy Station Battlefield and the Bristoe Station Battlefield, if that is what a majority of the property owners want.
Current and Future Land Use
Based on information provided by the Counties regarding current and future land use within the designated battlefields, the Department found that:
The Culpeper comprehensive plan anticipates significant development within the area which the Board designated as the battlefield. However, the plan acknowledges the existence of the battlefield and lists several specific sites within the battlefield as preservation areas that should somehow be protected within the overall development scheme. The plan also talks more generally about the need for sensitivity to the battlefield in developing the area.
The Fauquier plan anticipates that the area designated in Fauquier will remain essentially rural in character. It also generally recognizes the need to be sensitive to historic resources in the County.
Prince William's comprehensive plan identifies a number of local planning tools which could be used effectively to ensure that the most significant areas within the Bristoe Station battlefield are preserved and interpreted. The County assumes that a higher density of development within Bristoe Station Battlefield is inevitable, unless a third party steps in to purchase the land from the current property owners at fair market value for preservation purposes. The Prince William plan calls for any applicant for rezoning to address various policies and action strategies related to the preservation or development of the Bristoe Station Battlefield.
The comprehensive plans by their nature are not intended to set detailed guidelines for the physical characteristics of new construction, nor do they prescribe the effect which development will have on the character and integrity of the battlefields. Development of a sector plan for the Bristow area of Prince William is now underway.
Meeting Current and Future Transportation Needs
Regarding the ability of the state and localities to meet the current and fissure transportation within the designated areas, the Department found:
Culpeper County is concerned that the inclusion of major transportation routes in the previous designation may prevent or delay needed transportation improvements in the future. Both Culpeper County and VDOT anticipate that flexibility is needed to meet the demand of interstate traffic along the Route 29 corridor. It is also anticipated that local roads within the designated battlefield, some of which are substandard, will need to be improved to accommodate expected growth. Growth is expected to continue within the Route 29 corridor. A study group is now examining future transportation needs within the Route 29 corridor. Issues under study include avoidance of strip development and the possibility of acquiring access rights and compensating landowners.
Prince William County's plans do not regard the current state designation as placing any major obstacle in the way of meeting its current or future transportation needs. The County's proposed long range road network within the area of the battlefield is based on the assumption of buildout at expected future land uses at median densities. The County puts the burden on applicants for rezoning to show that the existing and future roadway network proposed by the applicant is capable of handling the increased traffic volumes that would be generated by the proposed land uses.
While consultation with VDOT on its ability to meet transportation needs within the two areas is continuing, the Department has worked successfully with VDOT in the past in other historic areas to ensure that needed transportation improvements are carried out in ways that minimize damage to historic resources. The Department's working relationship with VDOT is designed to encourage discussion of alternatives and compromise, not to stop projects. The Department's role in reviewing transportation projects is consultative and advisory. The Department does not have veto authority over VDOT.
Development and the 106 Review Process
The Department's consultation with the Counties and property owners found that:
It is not generally understood that federal law requires that every proposed federal undertaking with the potential to affect historic resources is reviewed to determine whether such effect exists and, if so, whether that effect is adverse.
These reviews, under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, will take place whenever and wherever any federal undertaking is proposed, whether or not the project proposed is within a historic district. In other words, the 106 review process is triggered by the proposal of a federal undertaking, not by the known existence of a historic landmark. The goals of the sponsoring federal agency drive the process. The process does not drive land-use decision making. The 106 process is designed to encourage discussion of alternatives and compromise, not to stop projects. The Department's role in the process is consultative and advisory only.
In Culpeper County, property owners and the County expect development in proximity to the Culpeper airport, and within the Route 29 and Norfolk Southern Railroad corridors, which would require federal 106 reviews and, in most cases, a change in zoning from agricultural to industrial.
Recent surveys conducted by the Department and Culpeper County will expedite 106 reviews within the designated battlefield.
Prince William County foresees no planned capital improvements within the Bristoe Station Battlefield in the near future. The County does foresee possible federal involvement in the 5expansion of parking facilities serving commuter rail traffic.
The Meaning, Effect, and Scope of the Designation
Based on its consultation with property owners within the two designated battlefields, the Department found that:
There is now some increased understanding of what the 1989 state landmark designation means and does not mean at Brandy Station, but that increased awareness is not universal, nor has it resulted in converting previous opponents to supporters of the designation as it exists today.
Property owners expressed considerable concern that designation sets the property aside, harms market value, 'triggers' Section 106 review, encourages subsequent regulatory action by the county, or leads to confiscatory action by the federal government. In general, opponents of designation worry about the "cloud of uncertainty' it creates regarding the sale or development of property.
There appears to be no consensus within the Culpeper community on some smaller area within the existing 13,903-acre designation at Brandy Station that could be designated in accord with official criteria and guidelines. Some property owners continue to see designation not as an effort to identify a resource, but instead to identify only that portion of a resource for which a definite preservation strategy has been developed and agreed upon by all parties concerned.
There is no better understanding of what designation means at Bristoe Station than existed in1991. The passage of time has not resulted in converting previous opponents to supporters of the designation, as it exists today. At Bristoe Station, there remains a complete absence of a constituency for designation of the battlefield among the owners of the designated land. There is no indication of any consensus or support for the designation of some smaller area of the battlefield.
Is There a Consensus on How Much of the Battlefields Should be Preserved or How that Preservation Should be Accomplished?
The Department found there was much hopeful discussion among Culpeper County property owners about the beneficial coexistence of preservation and economic development at Brandy Station. While there appears to be substantial property owner interest in preserving the four engagement areas identified by the National Park Service in a manner that connects them for free public access and interpretation and is fair to the current landowners, the Department believes that there is as yet no identifiable consensus on how much of the Brandy Station Battlefield should be preserved or how that preservation should be accomplished.
Consultation with owners of property within the Bristoe Station Battlefield indicated there was little interest among them in identifying priority arm or preservation strategies. The Civil War Sites Advisory Commission has identified the two major engagement areas within the core of the Bristoe battlefield, where the most intense fighting and casualties occurred. While there appears to be a common recognition that a dynamic and workable sector plan for the Bristow area could tie together diverse community needs, the Department believes that there is as yet no identifiable consensus on how much of the Bristoe Station Battlefield should be preserved or how that preservation should be accomplished.
Documentation on the Location and Significance of the Events of June 9 and October 14, 1863.
Property owners raised several concerns about the findings of the Board's previous designations of the Brandy Station and Bristoe Station Battlefield: 1) The significance of the two battles; 2) the acreage and boundaries of the two districts; 3) the present integrity of the two battlefields; and 4) the location of specific battle events within the designated areas.
In seeking to respond to these concerns, the Department has closely examined the following: 1) The research methodology and sources on which the Board's previous findings were based; 2) all additional documentary information made known to the Department by property owners; and3) any other pertinent documentary information which was not considered at the time of the Board's previous designations of the battlefield.
Based on this background research and examination, the Department finds that:
The Battle of Brandy Station and the Battle of Bristoe Station were significant episodes of the American Civil War. The battles of June 9, October 14, 1863 each exerted a major influence on the outcome of the campaign with which they were directly associated. While not all accounts of the battles presented to the Department were in complete agreement, the Board's findings of significance are supported by the preponderance of objective evidence, including contemporary battle reports. The current boundaries of the two districts accurately encompass the salient events of two battles that occurred over relatively large areas.
Despite the presence of noncontributing structures within the two battlefields, the two designated areas retain sufficient integrity to convey authentically an understanding of the significance, location, setting and historical associations of the events of June 9, and October 14,1863.
The Department found no indication that either designation was flawed due to any error of fact.