News Item Details

"Balanced Approach" Moves Economic Development and Historic Preservation Forward

11/25/2015

Fincastle, VA – In separate but closely related actions, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors today voted unanimously to both preserve archeological and historical resources from the County’s Greenfield business park and to allow the construction of a shell building designed to attract new manufacturing investment and jobs to the county. Following a report that representatives of the Botetourt County Historical Society, Virginia Department of Historic Resources (VDHR), and the County had in recent days agreed to work together to preserve the history of Greenfield and, yesterday, agreed on a new location within Greenfield for two historic structures that would be impacted by the shell building, Supervisors approved up to $300,000 in funding to start preservation that has been planned since 1997.

In what was described as “Phase 1” of a much larger preservation plan, the County will contract with specialists recommended by VDHR to move an 1830s kitchen and a mid-1800s slave cabin from the center of the Greenfield business park to a 28-acre preservation area set aside forthepurpose. Work will begin immediately to meet a targeted completion date of February 1, 2016. In addition to moving the two structures, archeological evaluations will be performed on both the new building site and the old to ensure no artifacts are destroyed or lost. A Phase 1 archeological study was made of the entire 923-acre Greenfield property following its purchase by the county in 1995. This additional evaluation will allow archeologists to search the earth directly below the two buildings for artifacts that could significantly add to the understanding of daily life on the former plantation.

With the historic preservation work approved, Supervisors went on to approve the sale of a 19-acre site in Greenfield to the Greater Roanoke Valley Development Foundation so that organization can build a 100,000 square-foot industrial building to attract new manufacturing investment and jobs to the region. The building will be expandable to 240,000 square feet. Construction is planned to start in the spring.

“Nearly twenty years ago, a previous board of supervisors had the courage, foresight, and wisdom to buy Greenfield and to figure out a balanced approach to economic development and historic preservation,” said Blue Ridge District Supervisor Billy Martin. “While some may disagree, it is still a balanced approach, and I think it is in the best interest of all of the people of Botetourt County.”

"We could have had a 'win-lose'", said Buchanan District Supervisor John Williamson, citing a choice between historic preservation and economic development. “This is a classic “win-win’, and I am comfortable and confident that this board and county staff did all we could do to reach the best possible outcome”.

“I appreciate the partnership of the Historical Society in this,” said Amsterdam District Supervisor Todd Dodson, whose district includes Greenfield. “I know it is painful and regrettable any time historic resources cannot be preserved in their original location, but we have a duty to make [Greenfield] successful and to create a tax base to support our schools, our public safety, and our historic preservation right here at Greenfield. Together we will do that.”

When Botetourt County purchased Greenfield Plantation in the mid-1990s, the goal was threefold: provide land for a new school, expand recreational opportunities, and develop a premier industrial park. The Board of Supervisors then underwent an open and public process at that time to develop a comprehensive plan amendment outlining those goals. Moreover, recognizing the history of the land and the existing structures, the County also formed a committee of citizens, staff, and consultants to develop a preservation plan for the park. The committee recommended and the Board of Supervisors endorsed a plan to move the historical structures and archeological findings to a designated historical preservation area at Greenfield. The Board and County Administration has reaffirmed that plan with the citizen committee, staff, other elected officials, and consultants since the original recommendation.

To accomplish that plan, the Board of Supervisors and the Historical Society will appoint members to a committee to oversee preservation work and develop recommendations and strategies to fully implement preservation plans. The mutual and ongoing commitment of the Board of Supervisors and the Historical Society to this endeavor will ensure that the history of Greenfield is honored in a thoughtful way that balances the triumphs of the past with the promise of tomorrow.

 

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For more information, contact

Cody Sexton, County Administrator's Office

(540) 928-2010