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Wal–Mart gives original Orange site to state

Wal–Mart has given the state more than 50 acres near Wilderness battlefield at the site where it originally planned to build a Supercenter in Orange County, Gov. Bob McDonnell announced Friday.

“We are delighted by this generous and voluntary gift from Wal–Mart,” McDonnell said in a news release. “It’s another demonstration of Wal–Mart’s role as a good and positive corporate citizen in Virginia, whose presence here serves long-range goals for our vitality.”

The retail giant in 2011 abandoned its plans to build on the property near the intersection of State Routes 3 and 20 amid complaints from preservationists and a lawsuit challenging the county’s approval of a special-use permit for the retail giant. The original site was about a quarter-mile north of the entrance to Wilderness battlefield area of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.

Wal–Mart eventually settled on a site off Route 3 about 4 miles to the west, where it opened a store in July.

Henry Jordan, a senior vice president for Eastern Seaboard Wal–Mart, said he was pleased the company was able to find a home in the county and donate land for historic preservation.

“In this way, we have been able to give back to the community and serve the needs of our customers,” he said in a statement.

Virginia’s Department of Historic Resources will oversee the donated land and protect it from development.

Department Director Kathleen S. Kilpatrick called it a “wonderful legacy gift” and noted that it comes during the midpoint of the Civil War sesquicentennial.

“We look forward to working with community leaders to steward the property and realize its potential for public benefit,” she stated.

Jim Lighthizer, president of the Civil War Trust, called the donation an “important milestone in the protection of battlefield lands.”

“With this donation, Wal–Mart successfully fulfills the commitment made in 2011 to choose an alternate site and work to set aside the original location,” he said.

House Speaker Bill Howell of Stafford County, chairman of the state’s Sesquicentennial Commission, thanked Wal–Mart for donating the land.

“The Civil War is an important part of Virginia’s history,” he said. “This donation will allow for the preservation of these historic lands for future generations.”

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