STAFFORD, Va. -- Officials in a Virginia county have agreed to a developer’s plan to move parts of a historic rock formation marked with soldiers’ graffiti to a Civil War park to make way for warehouses.
The Stafford County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to let Peterson Companies relocate portions of the tall sandstone mass to the Stafford Civil War Park, The Free Lance-Star reported. The vote also allows the developer to proceed with clearing the area for the project Peterson describes as a 177-acre industrial campus with 1.8 million-square feet of building space.
Peterson, which will also pay $10,000 to the Stafford County Cultural Heritage Museum, said it’s too early to name any interested businesses.
More than 213,000 Union Army soldiers occupied Stafford between 1862 and 1864. Etchings left by soldiers standing watch at the remote outpost nearly 160 years ago are visible on rock formations known as Buzzard’s Roost deep in the woods near Stafford Regional Airport.
The original proposal called for a buffer to protect the historic rock formation, but Peterson Managing Director Adam Cook said after the graffiti is moved, the area will be completely cleared.
“What would be left is just developable flat land,” Cook said. “(Buzzard’s Roost) itself, if it were to remain, would be sort of like Rapunzel’s Tower, 40 feet in the air. It would just be a very odd feature in any landscape.”
The Virginia Department of Historic Resources has noted that Buzzard’s Roost “is potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and measures should be taken to ensure its protection,” county Planning and Zoning Department Assistant Director Kathy Baker told the supervisors.
County historical groups and National Park Service personnel expressed a desire to keep the rock formation intact during a meeting at the site several months ago, according to Anita Dodd, who leads Stafford’s historical commission.
“I think it should stay where it is,” Dodd said. “Once you remove something like that, it loses all of its context and that’s significant.”