Foundation Explains Details Of Cedar Creek Agreement
Joseph W.A. Whitehorne
August 2008 Letter to the Editor in Response to July 2008 Letter
TO THE EDITOR:
I feel a clarifying response is in order to Robert Krick’s commentary on page 3 of the July, 2008 issue. It is apparent that he did not get his information from all parties involved, thus causing an unbalanced summary of the issue.
The greatest danger to the overall battlefield lies not in the quarry’s plans but in the incremental parceling of the area into 5-10 acre residential lots. The viewshed in the area whence come most of the objections to the quarry’s proposal has been irreparably altered already.
To its credit, Carmeuse has a long-range vision going forward 30-50 years. Ironically, this means that by the end of that time, the quarry lands will be more congenial to views from protected battlefield lands than those presently in the county, most of which are not in the NPS core area – and are zoned residential.
The Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation (CCBF) has taken the initiative to preserve and protect core battlefield land and artifacts. When the rezoning issue first appeared, CCBF opposed the application because of preservation concerns.
We waited for almost two years for the local preservation partnership group to negotiate a position, but it did not. Total opposition seemed to be the only position by implication. As the rezoning loomed, we felt we had to deal with the quarry’s owner, Carmeuse, to ensure the best possible preservation efforts and responsible land use.
Our board members felt that the “just say no” policy was not a practical position to take, especially when we learned from Carmeuse officials that the limestone vein adjacent to the battlefield was the highest quality east of Denver, valued at $300 million.
This was not a “gravel company” operation, as described in Robert Krick’s commentary. This is one of the richest limestone veins in the country, and our board members were convinced that sooner or later it would be rezoned for exploitation.
The agreement we negotiated with Carmeuse was not dependent on their rezoning request. This was a very significant unconditional preservation achievement that has been ignored or overlooked by the entities who choose now to disparage our efforts.
Furthermore, CCBF did not share the details of the CCBF-Carmeuse agreement with the Frederick County Board of Supervisors in order to avoid influencing their votes.
The agreement with Carmeuse embraces a great deal more than the 8 acres cited in Mr. Krick’s letter to the editor.
For two decades, the number one complaint from both reenactors and spectators has been the quarry processing plant as the backdrop to the battlefield. Carmeuse has agreed to eliminate or significantly reduce the visibility of the existing processing plant and reduce the height of the berms visible from the Heater House fields and main battlefield.
This mitigation will become the single most important improvement to the vista of the entire park for years to come. This came from simply meeting one-on-one with the quarry, and sharing our concerns, something our partners did not do.
Carmeuse and the CCBF agree that there could be other historical resources (vestiges of the morning battle, U.S. VI Corps camps) immediately adjacent to the cited 8-acre parcel which may encompass additional acreage. These acres will also be deeded to the CCBF upon the completion of an archaeological study to confirm their significance.
An archeological survey headed by Dr. Clarence Geier of James Madison University will be conducted on all other properties under consideration for rezoning, paid for by Carmeuse.
Berm construction will not occur in areas identified as historically significant, and any artifacts found will become the property of the CCBF, held in trust for the public benefit.
As part of the agreement, other areas of historical significance, such as an area known locally as the Middletown Woods, may also be deeded to the CCBF. We are also in discussions with Carmeuse concerning the possible placement of preservation easements on substantial amounts of core battlefield land.
There are other areas, such as the quarry’s pristine buffer land bordering Cedar Creek, which will become available for preservation as active quarrying ceases.
All of the above actions will be paid for by the quarry owners and will not involve non-profit dollars that can now be used to help preserve other battlefield lands.
I would like to comment about precious funds. Five days before the vote, some of our partners asserted that they would acquire the quarry property ifthe rezoning were tabled. Raising $300 million is quite a challenge, and if so, perhaps this money could be better spent on the land to the east of the quarry where the hardest fighting occurred and which is most endangered by county zoning policy.
For years we have watched developers build subdivisions in the very center of the battlefield. Preserving what remains will be a boon to battlefield interpretation.
The CCBF chose to negotiate in good faith, honestly, responsibly and in a manner we believe to be in keeping with the Foundation’s mission statement: the protection of the core battlefield – not established residential areas.
Our efforts have always depended on the sustained goodwill and dedicated efforts of our many Board members, partners, reenactors, sponsors and volunteers who have enabled us to help preserve this important national treasure known as the Cedar Creek Battlefield.
We hope that when fully informed, your readers will agree that the best that could be done has been. Years from now, the view toward North Mountain will be restored land, not ranchettes.
Joseph W.A. Whitehorne
Joseph W.A. Whitehorne has served over 15 years as a board member and President of the Cedar Creek Battlefield Foundation. He is a retired U.S. Army officer who teaches at Lord Fairfax Community College, lectures and has written numerous military history books and articles.