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Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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April 17, 2012     Spirit of Jefferson Farmers Advocate
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April 17, 2012
 

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f A Wednesday, April .18, 2012 Battle FROM PAGE A1 included within the boundaries of either the Antietam National Battlefield or Harpers Ferry Na- tional Historical Park, and last week published all 131 com- ments received in a summary re- port on its website. The comments were received in part during two public meet- ings held in Harpers Ferry and Shepherdstown in February, with other comments posted on the service's Planning, Environment and Public Comment website. The study will last for two years, and Congress could decide to include the site in the park sys- tem if the Secretary of the Interior receives such a recommendation from the park service. An ear- lier study conducted by the Na- tional Historical Landmarks Pro- gram concluded the site was not historically significant enough to warrant inclusion in the na- tional park system. Legislation approved by Congress under the leadership of West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in 2009 authorized the park service to give the site a second look. One unusual feature of the scoping period was the request by the park service for feedback on what the boundaries of the proposed battlefield park might be, said David Hayes, regional planner and transportation liaison for the National Park Service. "Typically what happens is when we're tasked with doing a resource study Congress gives us the boundaries," Hayes said. "That didn't make it to the final legislation. That's unusual. Now we have to figure out what kind of boundary we're going to work in." Hayes said between 10 to 15 different boundaries have been identified by the public, with a number of commenters ask- ing the park service to consider preserving and interpreting more than the two-day encounter be- tween Lee and McClellan. Some land -- more than 265 acres as of 2010 -- has already been set aside into easements by property owners and late last year, the Jefferson County His- toric Landmarks Commission completed the purchase of the 18-acre Boteler Cement Mill site, thanks in part to a $25,000 eco-. nomic development grant from Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, which was paired with two grants from the state Department of Trans- portation along with donations gathered from the Shepherd- stown Battlefield Protection As- sociation and other groups for a total purchase price of $375,000. A 2010 Report on the Na- tion's Civil War Battlefields des- ignates 2,792 acres as part of the Shepherdstown's battlefield's study area with a little more than 2,502 acres eligible for inclusion as part of a potential National Register boundary area. As part of a report on the conditions of Civil War sites, the American Battlefield Protection Program f Comments received far the Shepherdstown Battlefield Special Resource Study can be viewed on the National Park Service's website at parkplanning,nps, govidocument,cfm ?par kiD=530&projectlD=368 34&documentlD=46757. includes Shepherd town as a third-tier battlefield worthy of preservation. According to the report; Shepherdstown is designated one of among ttae most intact battlefield areas, with about 2,500 of the site's nearly 2,800 acres considered available for inclusion on the National Reg- ister For supporters of the battle- field site, one parcel -- the Os- born Farm -- is regarded as a prime piece of real estate for preservation, and the Shepherd- stown Battlefield Protection Association, which was formed in 2005, has embarked upon a proti'acted seven-year campaign against both the county and Maryland developer Faraway Farms LLC as part of an effort to scuttle a proposed residential development on the land around the historic homestead, which historians note was the scene of some fighting. The project would result in about 152 sin- gle-family houses built on 122 acres along Trough Road about a mile south of the river. Last year; .the battlefield group filed suit against the county planning cOmmission to reverse a settlement between the county and the developer that would have effectively re- set the clock on the project; the planning commission would re- issue a three-year conditional NeWS use permit for the project and allow a completed impact state- ment to serve as a concept plan, while the developer would pro- ceed with the plan under the county's new subdivision regu- lations. Attorney Linda Gutsell, who represents the battlefield asso- ciation, said the planning com- mission committed an Open Meetings violation in agreeing to the settlement. The case is expected to be heard in Jeffer- son County Circuit Court on May 7. In another move, an effort by the battlefield group to stop 23rd Circuit Judge David Sand- ers from approving the county's settlement with the developer was rejected by the state Su- preme Court Of Appeals earlier this year. According to the recently released summary report, a frequent response from those who submitted comments was to have the battle interpreted in Maryland, at the Ferry Hill site, which is already under park service management as part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park. Oth- ers who responded noted the difficulty in getting to the site because of both traffic and the terrain, which is wooded and hilly with steep cliffs overlook- ing the river about a half-mile past the cement mill ruins. Other commenters were skeptical of plans to interpret the site, while others disagreed with efforts to expand the study site into the corporate limits of Shepherdstown. Including the battlefield into the park system isn't the only option being considered, Hayes said. Other options include rec-" ommending the site be made into a state park or working to se- cure the preservation of the land through private easements. Gutsell said West Virginia stands to benefit by preserving land associated with the three- battle Antietam campaign. "We're the 0nly state that hasn't preserved our part of it," Gutsell said, adding Washington County, Md., captures between $15 to $18 million in heritage tourism dollars. "Hundreds of people would come to West Vir- ginia if they had a reason. It's a forgotten part of history." The park service is expected to begin preparing a draft study this spring, which will be com- plete by early 2013. "By that point, we'll have a boundary and we'll have de- . cided if there is any national significance," Hayes said. pirit of JEFFERSON'and FARMER'S ADVOCATE ROBERT SNYDER The ruins of the Boteler Cement Mill were purchased by the Jefferson County 1! Landmarks Commission last year..The 18-acre parcel, which sits along the il Potomac River, coul~l be incorporated into a proposed national battlefield site if the National Park Service recommends it for inclusion into either Antietam National Battlefield or Harpers Ferry National Historical Park. .i' t We'll beat any Charles Town or Ranson storage facility by lmonth! 165 Philip Avenue Charles Town, WV Boat / RV / Climate Control (304) 724-7867 ! am mlmn =mJm mmnm= SKECHERS Pauta Dean Ebony Seventeen u=m I