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LETTER: Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area weighs in on Warrenton’s comprehensive plan

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LETTER: A letterbox with the inscription Letter to the editor

The Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area, headquartered in northern Fauquier County, was founded in 1995 and our mission is to educate and advocate for the preservation of the extraordinary historic landscape, culture and scenery of our state-designated Heritage Area.

Warrenton is an important Heritage Area town with extraordinary historic character and it is imperative that it be protected in the comprehensive plan. Warrenton’s entryways and access corridors must be preserved to maintain its unique charm. As the draft plan states on Page 17, “HR-5.1: Explore a Historic Gateway Corridor Overlay District,” it is critical to the authenticity and setting of a historic town to maintain an appropriate gateway.

Large scale development, with clover-leaf roadways and high-rise commercial areas, would be jarring, out of character and destructive to Warrenton’s historic fabric. Development on this scale would not only be unattractive, but it would ruin the unique charm that makes the town special among northern Virginia locales.

VPHA also strongly opposes the proposed change to commercially zoned land, which would enable a significant acceleration of residential growth in Warrenton. Appropriate studies have not been completed to justify this increase in by-right mixed-use development and we do not have sufficient data to understand its impact on traffic, taxes, water and sewer and quality of life.

The comprehensive plan needs to further protect and reinforce the integrity of historic resources, and the discussion of Character Districts on Page 29 should promote adaptive reuse of historic structures. Rather than demolition and new construction, the plan should encourage adapting historic buildings for reuse as offices, housing and other modern services which preserves the historic character of Warrenton and conserves resources.

The stand-alone Historic Preservation Plan listed on Page 17’s action items should include specific protections and incentives for adaptive reuse. This plan should also inventory historically African American neighborhoods, including Haiti Street, Oliver City and Madisontown, and special attention should be given to their eligibility for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

C. Dulany Morison

Chair, Virginia Piedmont Heritage Area

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