A Fairfax man whose illegal all-terrain vehicle park next to Manassas National Battlefield Park had angered government officials, neighbors and history buffs has agreed to take his machines and go away.
Sam Unuscavage, who once dismissed sensitivities about the battlefield by noting that "the war's over" and insisted that he was "going to do whatever I feel like doing" on the property, has agreed to terminate his lease and get rid of the dirt ramps and motorcycle jumps on the land.
Unuscavage's action comes as his landlord was preparing to evict him and after Prince William County officials had obtained an injunction in November against using all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles on the land. His landlord also was facing a fine of $1,000 a day every time Unuscavage violated the injunction -- which was frequently, according to a neighbor's affidavit filed in Prince William Circuit Court.
"We began to take steps to throw him out, but we came to this resolution before we had to do that," said Randy Frostick, lawyer for Unuscavage's landlord, TOV LLC. "Basically, the case is going to be dismissed and the injunction will be permanent, but it won't really matter because Mr. Unuscavage will be out of there."
And that's fine with neighbors, including Mary Ann Ghadban, who said Unuscavage and others were using the field as recently as this past weekend. "You can't let someone so arrogant and disrespectful of the law win," she said. "He thumbed his nose at the zoning laws of the county, and you just don't do that. We're not the Wild West out here."
The agreement was hammered out after county officials showed that Unuscavage was apparently violating the injunction. "The parties moved aggressively once we showed cause that he had been continuing to ride," said Assistant County Attorney Curt G. Spear Jr., crediting eagle-eyed neighbors. "It's not that hard to observe, particularly when they were flying over jumps that take them 20 feet in the sky."
Unuscavage was only the latest to try -- and fail -- to locate a business near the battlefield, an act that some consider an insult to the hallowed ground of the Civil War site, where thousands fell in two major battles. Over the past two decades, preservationists have successfully fought efforts by John T. "Til" Hazel to build a mall and by Walt Disney Co. to build a historical theme park nearby.
Since last fall, when Unuscavage began cutting down trees on the 23 acres off Route 29, he had insisted he was complying with county laws. Despite evidence that Unuscavage was charging people to use the park and had advertised it on the Internet and through fliers, the Centreville man had insisted he was using the land for farming. Any riding would be limited to himself and friends, he told officials.
Frostick said the land will now be put back on the real estate market for other uses.
Unuscavage and his lawyer could not be reached for comment yesterday. County officials said they were pleased with the settlement.
"Goodbye and good riddance," said Sean T. Connaughton (R-At Large), chairman of the Board of County Supervisors.
"It was a wise move," said Supervisor Edgar S. Wilbourn III (R-Gainesville), who represents the area. "He realized he wasted a lot of time, effort and money on a futile cause."