A map yesterday accompanying a story on the rezoning of the Civil War battlefield at Brandy Station should have indicated that all but a small part of the battlefield lies north of Route 29, where an industrial park is planned. (Published 9/27/90)

The Culpeper County Board of Supervisors has approved a plan to build an industrial park at Brandy Station, on the site of the Civil War's largest cavalry battle.

California developer Lee Sammis agreed to set aside 248 historic acres as part of the 1,445-acre rezoning, but preservationists say his plans will destroy crucial areas of the battlefield, where 20,500 Union and Confederate troops clashed on June 9, 1863.

"What he's offered us is acreage where there wasn't a lot of fighting, {and} he can't build on it because it's a slope," said Clark "Bud" Hall, of the Brandy Station Foundation. "What lies totally unprotected is the plateau where the Sixth Pennsylvania made their charge."

Sammis's donation is too small to qualify as a National Historic Landmark, said Edwin Bearss, chief historian for the National Park Service.

The Brandy Station rezoning comes at a time when interest in the Civil War is high. More than 13.9 million people watched the first episode of public television's "The Civil War" on Sunday night, according to Nielsen ratings.

Development also is threatening previously undisturbed battlefield sites across the country, particularly in Virginia, where much of the war was fought.

Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan Jr. in July identified 25 endangered battlefields, including Brandy Station, and called for public and private groups to join together to save them.

A public hearing last week and Monday's 5 to 2 board vote to approve the Elkwood Downs project, the largest in Culpeper, illustrate the difficulties associated with battlefield preservation.

About 40 people voiced concern about the light industrial project's effect on the battlefield, the Rappahannock River and the county's rural character. Nearly equal numbers testified for Sammis's proposal, pointing out that the Culpeper Municipal Airport already occupies one large section of the battlefield and that county officials long ago designated the area for industrial development needed to broaden the tax base and create jobs.

National Park Service officials wrote Culpeper officials last week that "as earnestly as we would like to see the battlefield historic landscape preserved . . . {we are} mindful that {this} . . . is a land use decision in which the preservation issue is only one factor."

For most supervisors, the project's economic benefits, coupled with the developer's donation -- including $6 million in road improvements -- outweighed its detriments.

"It would be great if the entire territory were never touched, but let's be realistic," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Jack Fincham, who voted for the proposal. "The only thing that had ever been done {for Brandy Station} is to place two markers on the road. Now a developer has proffered to protect" some of the site.

The preservationists said they haven't given up. They plan to fight Sammis every time he seeks a permit and may file suit against the supervisors, arguing that the rezoning was invalid.

A national battlefield protection initiative has also run into trouble recently. Lujan has announced that he will oppose a congressional plan to create a commission to study Civil War battlefields unless he -- and not Congress -- gets to appoint the members and the commission is stripped of the power to hold hearings and seek donations.