The Minkoff Minx {Go Ahead…Make Your Move!}

"I get very passionate about what I think is right."-Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hypocrites all of them…

Hypocrites all of them…I really find it interesting that those same group of people who are calling all of those opposed to the Ground Zero Mosque bigots and the like…would also be opposed to building a Wal-mart on the Civil War Wilderness Battlefield.

Fourteen years ago I stood on the banks of the muddy Rappahannock River, speaking to a crowd of roughly 100 people gathered to protest a Wal-Mart superstore planned on the site of Ferry Farm, the boyhood home George Washington. A light snow was falling in the February chill.

“I cannot tell a lie,” I told the project’s opponents, “this is one of the dumbest sites for a Wal-Mart store I have ever seen.”

Several months later, Wal-Mart was bought out by a historic preservation group — and they slid their store several miles east down Route 3. But the company never learned the lesson of Ferry Farm, and they continue to try to bulldoze history out of their path.

Now Wal-Mart has chosen a dumber site than Ferry Farm — this one also in Virginia, and also of immense historic significance. This week, the first shot in a long legal battle over a 138,000 square foot Wal-superstore near the Wilderness Civil War battlefield has hit Wal-Mart — but its just a superficial wound.

The outcome of the 1864 Wilderness Battle may have been hard for Union or Confederate troops to predict at the time — but the zoning outcome of the Wal-Mart battle near the Wilderness Battlefield 145 years later was never in doubt. Local officials were ready to give this project a special permit even before the first volley of facts against the project were fired.

Last June, the Orange County, Virginia Planning Commission voted to recommend a special permit for a Wal-Mart superstore one quarter mile from the Wilderness battlefield, the site of the first clash between Generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. An estimated 160,000 troops fought at The Wilderness. Before the end of the two day confrontation, as many as 29,000 soldiers had been killed, wounded or captured. According to the Friends of the Wilderness, the battle was a tactical draw.

But Wal-Mart opponents do not intend to end this legal battle with a tactical draw. A lawsuit was filed in September to push Wal-Mart out of The Wilderness. Wal-Mart marched by the Planning Commission on a narrow 5-4 vote. In August of 2009, the Orange County Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the project. The Civil War Preservation Trust, which has fought the project since the first shot, called that vote a “setback for preservationists” but warned, “this battle is not over yet.”

A Wal-Mart spokesman made it clear that the retailer was digging in at The Wilderness. “Two years ago, the county decided this site was one where growth should occur,” the company official said. “We have looked at alternative sites and there are other sites but they require rezoning. There is no guarantee the county would approve another site.”

One month after the County vote, opponents got their chance to fire back. Litigation was filed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) and the Friends of Wilderness Battlefield. The National Trust said the County Board of Supervisors “failed to gather and consider important information about negative effects on the County, its citizens and its historic resources.”

This week, seven and a half months after that appeal was filed, the plaintiffs have won the first skirmish. A Judge in the Orange County Circuit Court has ruled that opponents have legal “standing” to move forward with their lawsuit. The Orange Board of Supervisors’ request that the lawsuit be dismissed was rejected. Now the case can proceed on its merits.

The Judge forced the National Trust out of the case for lack of standing, but found that a huge Wal-Mart superstore raised valid concerns about increased traffic and environmental impacts. “The use of land by an establishment like Wal-Mart could have an adverse and immediate impact,” the Judge wrote.

A long list of historians and dignitaries have spoken out against this Wal-Mart site, including Civil War filmmaker Ken Burns, actor Robert Duvall, Virginia Governor Timothy Kaine, and Congressmen from Vermont and Texas, representing the soldiers from both states who lost their lives at The Wilderness. “The question for Wal-Mart, one of the world’s most successful corporations, is whether they need a fifth Wal-Mart within 20 miles to be sited on this ‘cathedral of suffering,'” said Vermont Congressman Peter Welch.

Actor Robert Duvall expressed a similar sentiment. “I believe in capitalism, but I believe in capitalism coupled with sensitivity. Sensitivity towards historical events and the feelings of the people of this whole area.” The Civil War Preservation Trust says a ‘Wilderness Wal-Mart’ would wreck the unique character of the existing battlefield park and countryside, and shatter the “reverent atmosphere” that surrounds one of America’s bloodiest battlefields.

Wal-Mart Realty apparently learned nothing from its run-in with George Washington fourteen years ago, and now is running full-tilt into the ghosts of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant. As a company which is tone-deaf to the history of this country, Wal-Mart should immediately sound a retreat and pull its cannons back.

There are plenty of other communities to destroy, and even if Wal-Mart ultimately were to build another Orange County store on this site, it will be badly bloodied in the court of public opinion.

Al Norman has been fighting big box stores for 17 years. He is the founder of Sprawl-Busters, and the author of “The Case Against Wal-Mart.” 60 Minutes has called him “the guru of the anti-Wal-Mart movement.”

Or this little tidbit:

Walmart Building in a Civil War Battlefield

One definition of sprawl: Destroying a bit of American history, for cheap food and clothing.

Ah, sprawl.

In Orange County, Va., sprawl seems to be winning. County officials last week voted in favor of a proposal to clear an historic Civil War battlefield to make way for a 240,000 square foot big box development — that’s more square footage of commercial space than is housed in the Empire State Building. The centerpiece of the development is a 138,000-square-foot Walmart, according to the Civil War Preservation Trust.

I watched a similar debate in New York’s Hudson Valley, where the most important northern supply area for the Revolutionary War, the Fishkill Encampment, has been carved up for decades into ever smaller bits, as chain developments pave over the history. There’s a chance the recent discover of some grave sites may prevent yet another development proposal.

Battlefields and encampments don’t leave a whole lot of very visible history. There aren’t ruins, necessarily, and some would say there’s a tendency to simply use history as an excuse to thwart development. Expansive batttlefields in suburban areas, however, tend to be among the few pockets of open space around, and history should matter. Those two sites played notable roles in two of this nation’s most important historical episodes.

In the case of the Hudson Valley, local advocates and the New York State Office of Parks and Recreation and Historical Preservation support the preservation of the encampment as an historic site. In the case of the Virginia battlefield, the National Parks Conservation Association is among the advocates for preservation:

“We are extremely disappointed, although not surprised, by the Orange County Board of Supervisors vote to allow construction of the Wal-Mart superstore on historic land near an important Civil War battlefield here in Virginia,” said NPCA Virginia Program Manager Catharine Gilliam. “This commercial development is improperly sited on land that is critical to understanding the National Park Service’s interpretation of the Battle of the Wilderness for the American people. NPCA has actively participated and offered constructive suggestions to find alternatives that would protect the neighboring national park and allow a Wal-Mart to be built on less sensitive land. It is not necessary to desecrate the land where a horrific battle took place less than 150 years ago in pursuit of profit and pavement.

“Although members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors announced repeatedly that they would vote to approve Wal-Mart’s application, even before the public process began, NPCA and our members, and other organizations in the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition, participated in the public process at every stage available. Despite (the recent) disappointing vote, we will continue to explore options to protect this important national park. This battle is not over yet. We continue to hold out hope that Wal-Mart will do the right thing by relocating its business, and respect and protect America’s heritage and history.”

In the end, this has everything to do with planning for development. Most communities don’t want to go without any development, but it’s in their hands to determine where that development should be concentrated and what type of development should take place. Knowing what sites are important to local (or national) history, and to the quality of the local environment is the first step. Zoning to protect them, by diverting development into existing town centers, primarily, is the next step. And holding fast to your values in the face of pressure from moneyed interests is the final step. It takes concerned citizens at every step of the way, and the values of preservation don’t always win.

The fight is worth fighting.

The best part is this last bit:

Knowing what sites are important to local (or national) history, and to the quality of the local environment is the first step. Zoning to protect them, by diverting development into existing town centers, primarily, is the next step. And holding fast to your values in the face of pressure from moneyed interests is the final step. It takes concerned citizens at every step of the way, and the values of preservation don’t always win.

The fight is worth fighting.

Fucking give me a break! So to all you who approve of the location of this monstrosity….I say take a bit of your own advice…THE FIGHT IS WORTH FIGHTING!

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3 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    “Those opposed to the mosque see the presence of a Muslim community center near Ground Zero, where the World Trade Center fell to radical Islamicists, as inappropriate. Supporters see just the opposite: Peaceful coexistence and tolerance is fundamental to American ideals, so why not build it near Ground Zero?

    What do you think? Does the revelation of green building plans alter your opinion?”

    Read more: http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/green-ground-zero-mosque-0813#ixzz0wswLysIO

    Oh, it is going to be a green building…that is okay…just fuck the families of those almost 3000 killed.

  2. Mommameah says:

    I have seen comments you’ve tried to make at other places and I really feel for you and your family. 9/11 was the first and last time I fell to my knees and prayed, right there in my kitchen. I agree 100%, this center doesn’t need to be built there. It feels like a deliberate poke in the eye. I can *still* have that opinion and believe in all the rights and freedoms provided by our constitution, there has to be a middle ground here. I am finding it hard to believe that some people who I usually agree with and respect find this view so abhorrent or that it must be based on intolerance or ones politics. It mainly *is* an emotional thing for so many Americans. Keep on keepin on Minx, I understand what you are saying and I respect your right to say it. Best.

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