Foundation hopes for easement from New Market leaders
By Ryan Cornell
NEW MARKET — The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields Foundation is hoping to preserve more hallowed ground with the addition of two properties totaling about 260 acres.
The properties, located north of the town boundary, are owned by Henry Buhl and Glen Turner.
Speaking on behalf of the two property owners on Monday night, SVBF Conservation Director John Hutchinson asked the New Market Town Council to consider allowing the foundation to place a conservation easement on the properties. This would prohibit future development of the land, which he said is in the core of the New Market Battlefield.
“We always think of the battlefield as being on the other side of the interstate, but it’s actually on both sides of the road and the town, too,” he said. “This is a very important ground from the perspective of interpreting and protecting the battle.”
The two properties are part of the town’s growth area plan, which charts locations for future annexation and development.
According to Hutchinson, the Buhl parcel is 50 acres and located within the plan’s medium-density traditional residential neighborhood area, while the Turner property is about 210 acres and mostly contained in the residential low-cluster area.
He said a substantial portion of the Turner property lies within the 100-year floodplain for Smith Creek, and “is not very buildable no matter what happens to it.”
The conservation easement would total about 260 acres out of the town’s 1,300-acre proposed growth area, he added.
“You all were very generous in allowing yourself plenty of space in the growth area,” he said. “The likelihood of it filling up within the next 40 to 50 years, even by the projections we did at that time, are very slim.”
For a piece of land to be placed under a conservation easement, the SVBF would need the approval of the Town of New Market and Shenandoah County.
“The foundation is not in the habit of trying to change what local governments are doing, whether it’s a zoning issue or whatever,” Hutchinson said. “But we also have a commitment to try to help landowners do what they want with their land as regards to preservation, and of course, to protect the battlefields themselves.”
In other business, Velma Jordan announced that she has been elected as the new president of the New Market Area Chamber of Commerce. She replaces Cathy Wittig-Donald, who has resigned due to an illness in the family.
Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or email@example.com