Phase I

Designed to encourage new and innovative thinking about land use in eastern Orange County, Virginia, the Wilderness Battlefield Gateway Study began in the spring of 2011. Its objective was to present potential, preservation-friendly development patterns and strategies that would support heritage tourism while simultaneously providing services for permanent residents and improving economic vitality in the Wilderness region.

Over the course of a year, a diversified team of landscape architects, planners, economists, transportation engineers, and representative public and private stakeholders collaboratively discussed land development and preservation issues in the project area. The team, led by Virginia-based consulting firm Hill Studio, met with the full group of stakeholders three times over the course of the project, and held two full, larger gatherings open to the general public in addition to a series of individual meetings with local leaders and members of the media to brief them on the study’s progress. Video of an open house organized in October 2011 to review the project’s interim findings and preliminary recommendations is available on our YouTube channel.

Much like the study’s participants, its Phase I recommendations are diverse and multi-faceted. To demonstrate the options available to Orange County, Phase I includes three scenario concepts illustrating different combinations of the development patterns recommended in Hill Studio’s report — many of which are modeled on patterns seen elsewhere in the county.

The Phase I report and accompanying press release are available via the links below:

Highest Resolution (50 MB)

Reduced Resolution (27 MB)

Executive Summary Only (2 MB)

Press Release

Phase II

Released in November 2012, the Phase II report is the outcome of continuing, intensive discussions among participating stakeholders and provides a consensus-based Preferred Development Plan for the Wilderness Battlefield gateway area.

The efforts of stakeholders in creating the Preferred Development Plan included an intensive two-day planning session with a roundtable of representatives of preservation and conservation organizations, key private landowners and local government officials. The group worked through outstanding critical issues to identify mutual areas of support and direction for preservation and development in the gateway area. Recognizing both the immediate need for mutual understanding and the long-term need for improved infrastructure, an increased economic base and responsible, sensitive patterns of development, the range of stakeholders worked to identify a forward-looking plan that could help guide future county planning decisions.

The Preferred Development Plan recommends a more specific, desired location for a traditional, mixed-use Wilderness Village, planned business campus, guideline commercial area for Route 3, supporting public infrastructure, and a regional park along the Rapidan River. The collaborative work effort refined the three scenario concepts presented in Phase I of the study and established focused direction for managing development in the gateway area that could be supported by a majority of stakeholders. Further, the Preferred Development Plan integrates the cultural resource, economic and transportation analyses of the initial study and uses a recommended “kit of parts” to promote desired conservation and development patterns.

The vision outlined in this latest document represents an important milestone in advancing land planning for the gateway. The collaborating parties intend the Preferred Development Plan as a document-of-reference for the Orange County Comprehensive Plan, encouraging planned, compatible development appropriate to the gateway’s historic setting.

The Phase II report — including the Preferred Development Plan — and accompanying press release are available via the links below:

Highest Resolution (3 MB)

Press Release

The Wilderness Battlefield Gateway Study was underwritten through generous grants from the National Park Service and member groups of the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition — including the Civil War Trust, the National Parks Conservation Association, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Piedmont Environmental Council — with additional assistance from the Lake of the Woods Association and the Board of Supervisors of Orange County, Virginia.

The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition is an alliance of national, regional, state and local organizations with an abiding interest in the preservation of the historic Wilderness Battlefield in Orange County, Virginia. The findings of the Wilderness Battlefield Gateway Study are opinions and conclusions that do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.

Thank you for your interest.