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Road near historic site going private

The public part of Burma Road that runs in front of historic Moss Neck Manor, off U.S. 17 in Caroline County, will become a private road.

The county’s Board of Supervisors Thursday night approved making the road private, instead of a public road maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.

The 1.23-mile stretch of road is surrounded by the property owned by Gil and Judy Shelton on one side and Fort A.P. Hill on the other side.

The supervisors approved privatizing the road by a vote of 4–2.

The Reedy Church District’s Reggie Underwood and the Madison District’s Wayne Acors both voted against the measure.

Gil Shelton asked the board to remove the portion of the road from the secondary road system to “increase security and reduce trespassing, particularly during hunting season.”

The portion that will be privatized is about a mile in when coming off U.S. 17. The property closer to U.S. 17 is owned on one side by the Silver Cos. and on the other side by Fort A.P. Hill.

Shelton wrote in a letter to Mike Finchum, the county’s planning director, that both he and Fort A.P. Hill “have experienced several incidents of trespassing along the road in past years.”

He told the supervisors that he’s had about 10 incidents in the past year, with six to eight in the last two to three months.

Two of the incidents that he referred to included people taking four-wheelers onto Fort A.P. Hill property from Burma Road, and an incident of an attempted suicide near the cul-de-sac at the end of the road.

Caroline Sheriff Tony Lippa spoke in favor of privatizing the road, along Lt. Col. Peter Dargle, the commander of Fort A.P. Hill.

In a letter to the County Administrator Charles Culley, Dargle wrote that the privatization of the road would not infringe on operations for the post, provided that Fort A.P. Hill personnel “retain unencumbered access to Fort A.P. Hill property accessible from this portion of Burma Road.”

One speaker was against privatization—Ellen Snead, who owns property nearby on U.S. 17.

She said that closing access to the road limits the public’s ability to view a piece of history.

The estate was used as Confederate Lt. Gen. Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s winter headquarters from December 1862 through March 1863. Jackson was visited there at Christmastime by Gens. Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stewart. That gathering was depicted in a scene from the Civil War movie “Gods and Generals.”

Some board members agreed with her that currently, the only way to view the historic mansion without an appointment or invitation onto the grounds, is by driving past on the private road to get a glimpse of it.

Shelton said that he has an arrangement with the National Park Service that citizens can contact the Park Service if they’d like a tour of the grounds. He indicated that he’s hosted events and fundraisers in the past and welcomes interested parties onto the property when they inquire.

Chairman Floyd Thomas, who ultimately cast the deciding vote, said he was struggling with privacy rights: Shelton is against the public’s right to view the historic property from the road that is currently public.

He said he could understand Snead’s perspective.

Jervis Hairston, who spoke on behalf of the Silver Cos., said that the Silver Cos. does not oppose the privatization of the road, and asked that there be an adequate turnaround to where the private road would begin.

Shelton said that VDOT’s regional representative immediately approved the petition, further stating that VDOT should have recommended this several years ago to eliminate the expense of their maintaining a private road ending in a cul-de-sac.

Robyn Sidersky: 540/374-5413


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