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July 25, 2005 Builder ready to hire Archaeologist

By FRANK DELANO

Free Lance-Star

A Fredericksburg lawyer has told Westmoreland County that developers of a controversial housing project will conduct an archaeological survey of their 441/2-acre property next to President James Monroe's birthplace.

In addition, attorney Russell H. Roberts wrote in a letter, the developers will give the county $1,000 for each of 109 houses it plans to build.

 

But, Roberts said, the developers will neither reduce the project's density nor increase forest buffers between it and the county-owned birthplace property, where a foundation plans to build a replica of the home where Monroe was born in 1758.

Archaeology, density and buffers were among the concerns voiced by members of the county Board of Supervisors, which voted July 11 to table the builder's rezoning request until its Aug. 8 meeting.

Roberts represents James Monroe Birthplace LLC, whose registered agent is Douglas L. Cooper of Fredericksburg.

Cooper and his brother, Larry, a Colonial Beach businessman, own the swampy tract of cut-over timber on State Route 205 just south of Colonial Beach and immediately north of the James Monroe birthplace.

In his July 15 letter to County Administrator Norm Risavi, Roberts attached a $14,331 proposal from Cultural Resources Inc. of Fredericksburg to document the history of the Cooper tract and dig test holes at 50-foot intervals.

The proposal was accepted by Charles L. Collins, president of Collins Contracting Co. of Spotsylvania County. Roberts declined to say whether Collins was one of the partners.

"The work will not be complete before the next meeting of the Board, but the landowner commits to exclude any archaeologically sensitive areas from regions to be excavated by the development process," Roberts wrote.

Roberts also defended the density of the project, which features 50-foot-wide building lots. Any number less than the proposed 109 lots would be "economically unsound," he said.

Supervisors Chairman Robert J. Wittman has criticized the project's density. In 2002, Wittman voted against a Coles Point townhouse development on density grounds.

Roberts also argued that existing wetlands on the Cooper property and woodlands on the county property provide sufficient barriers between the two tracts.

Roberts said that if the supervisors allow the rezoning, other concerns, such as entrances and the shape of subdivision lots, will be addressed in a subsequent special-exception process.