By FRANK DELANO
Leaders of the James Monroe Foundation have told Westmoreland County officials that a proposed zoning ordinance should contain stronger protections for historic areas.
"Inexplicably, the proposed zoning ordinance includes no provisions for historic preservation and protection," foundation President G. William Thomas Jr. told county planning commissioners and supervisors Wednesday.
"Unless those tools are available, the county will be severely restricted in avoiding the kinds of land-use conflicts that are sure to come, that will threaten historic places and that will undermine the county's ability to encourage tourism," Thomas said.
On a 3-2 vote, the planning commissioners agreed to schedule a meeting within 30 days to consider adding historic-site protections to the proposed comprehensive overhaul of county zoning.
Thomas' group found itself engaged in a zoning conflict last year when a developer proposed building 109 houses on a 47-acre tract beside the county-owned parcel near Colonial Beach where President James Monroe was born in 1758.
The foundation, which hopes to build a replica of the Monroe farm, argued that the homes proposed next door would spoil the historic site.
The housing project, which was endorsed by the planning commission, remains in limbo pending an attorney general's opinion on the legality of the county's existing zoning ordinance.
Twenty Westmoreland County houses and places have been designated state and national historic landmarks, including the birthplaces of Monroe, George Washington, two signers of the Declaration of Independence and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.