Two review panels have split on whether the 1,100-acre Civil War battlefield at Bristow in Prince William County should be designated as a national and state historic landmark.
The Virginia Historic Resources Board deferred the nomination of the battlefield to the state's Register of Historic Landmarks.
A separate review panel, the State Review Board, earlier this week voted to recommend that the property be placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The land was the site of the Battle of Bristoe Station.
The director of the Historic Resources Department appoints the State Review Board to screen applications to the National Register. The governor appoints the Historic Resources Board to review applications of sites to the state register.
Bristow landowners fear the historic designations will reduce their property value. Officials from the state Department of Historic Resources have assured the residents that nomination to the state and national registers does not bar development of the land.
The battlefield likely never will be recognized on the National Register because such a listing is impossible under federal law if more than half the landowners on a tract do not back the action. Bristow residents who have participated in the public hearings have said there is virtually no support for the historic listing among the more than 60 owners of the battlefield.
But the law does not require the Historic Resources Board to abide by landowners' wishes, and board members said they thought the battlefield was worthy of historic recognition.
Members of the Historic Resources Board deferred their decision primarily in deference to Prince William County, they said.
The Historic Resources Department received a letter from County Executive James Mullen this week. Mullen, at the request of county Supervisor William Becker (R-Brentsville), asked for six months' delay so the county could try to work out a compromise with the landowners to eventually dedicate land for a park on the battlefield.
"These discussions with the landowners have been very positive," Mullen said in the letter. "However, the recent reactivation of the nomination request has adversely affected these discussions. A perception that property will be devalued by inclusion on the register discourages voluntary donations."
The Historic Resources Board agreed to postpone a decision until its next meeting on Dec. 11.
The owners say historic designation will lead to zoning laws protecting the land and restricting property rights.
About 20 residents drove to Richmond to express their feelings to the two boards on the nominations.
"It's fine for these people to come in and talk about the historical part of the battlefield," said resident Elizabeth Savage Parker, whose father owns more than 500 acres, part of which would be in the historic district. "But they have not paid for the land. They have not paid taxes on the land ... . We feel you are encroaching on our privileges to do with the land as we see fit."
U.S. Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan earlier this year included Bristow on a list of Civil War battlefields in need of protection from encroaching development.
About 1,900 Union and Confederate troops died at what was then called Bristoe Station in October 1863, when Confederate Gen. A.P. Hill attacked a Union camp and was routed. Some Confederate soldiers still are buried there, according to the nomination document.
The Save the Battlefield Coalition in June nominated Bristow nearly two years after the Historic Resources Department and Prince William County agreed to drop the issue because of landowner opposition. The county originally nominated the battlefield in 1988.
Daniel Jordan, chairman of the State Review Board, said he thought the case for recognizing the battlefield's historical importance was clear.
"I'm completely comfortable with this nomination, and I think we have a responsibility to go forward," he said before the review board voted to recommend placing the land on the National Register.
IN THE BUSINESS ... Home sales in the Washington area totaled 1,178 in August, down 5.9 percent from July's total, Housing Data Reports Housing Strategies reported. Year to date, 7,547 units have sold in the area, compared with the 11,709 that sold during the first eight months of 1989 ... Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-N.Y.) introduced a bill to amend the Soldiers' and Sailors' Civil Relief Act to protect reservists called to active duty from being evicted for not meeting rent payments ... Leases for 1.03 million square feet of commercial space were signed during the July-August reporting period in the District of Columbia, down from 1.48 million square feet in the same period of 1989, Julien J. Studley Inc. reported. The average rental rate was $40.20 in new buildings and $28.94 in old buildings ... Harkins Builders of Silver Spring is planning to begin construction on a 600-unit, 31-building Navy housing project in Woodbridge ... Sylmar Homes purchased the unbuilt finished lots of Amber Meadows, a single-family home development in Bowie, from its financially strapped original developer. The three- to five-bedroom houses are priced from $217,900 ... Somerset House Inc. completed construction of Somerset House II, a luxury condominium complex in Chevy Chase. The 149-unit building is half sold; units are priced from $500,000 to $1.7 million ... The Federal Reserve published a new brochure about applying for mortgages and how to register discrimination complaints called "Home Mortgages: Understanding the Process and Your Rights." Copies are available through the Board's Publications Services, MS-138, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, D.C. 20551 ... The Prince George's County Association of Realtors named Linda Casey president for the coming year.
CALENDAR ... The National Association of Home Builders is opening a model of its Adaptable House to the public today from noon to 4 p.m. The building, which is designed to accommodate people with disabilities, is on Central Avenue just west of Route 301 in Prince George's County. For more information, call 301-249-4000 ... The National Institute of Building Sciences is planning to hold its annual meeting Nov. 7 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel. For more information, call 202-289-7800 ... The Fairfax County Department of Consumer Affairs sponsored a workshop on community associations called "Homeowner Association Workshop" which was recorded on videotape and will be shown on Fairfax County Government Cable Channel 16 Nov. 12 and Nov. 19 at 8 p.m. ... The National Building Museum is planning two Construction Watch tours on Nov. 8 at 700 11th St. NW, a 12-story building mixing office, retail and hotel space. For more information, call 292-272-2448.
PERSONNEL FILE ... The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corp. (Freddie Mac) named Warren A. Raybould senior vice president and national sales director ... Metropolitan Properties Ltd., a newly formed real estate-property management firm, named Henry J. McGovern chief executive officer ... The Charles E. Smith Cos. Inc. named David R. Froelke senior vice president of commercial property management ... Shannon & Luchs Realtors named Michael Breidenbach vice president of its new homes division ... The Kaempfer Co., Investment Builders promoted Edward S. West, who is responsible for negotiating debt and equity transactions, to vice president.