Day 1 in Walmart v. Wilderness Battlefield Trial Ends

By: Carter Johnson Email
By: Carter Johnson Email

January 25, 2011

What was supposed to be the first day of proceedings in the Walmart v. Wilderness Battlefield trial turned into a long afternoon of pre-trial motions. However, the battle over this historic land is just getting started.

Circuit Court Judge Daniel R. Bouton heard arguments from both sides Tuesday. Defendants argued the battle is not about Wal-Mart or war, but rather a land issue. Opponents say it's over historical preservation.

"Well, what is the battlefield is a big question. It is on the battlefield. Not the core area where the hardest fighting took place, but on what we call the study area," said Russell Smith, who opposes the permit.

Proponents of the Walmart Supercenter disagreed, telling the judge nothing historical happened on the land in question.

While the debate is over the battlefield, the Walmart store would actually by built on a vacant lot a couple miles from the historic land. In August 2009, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved the special-use permit Wal-Mart needed to build the store.

While the battle between Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant took place nearly 150 years ago, the fight to build on the historical battlefield is just starting to take shape inside an Orange County courtroom.

Judge Bouton scheduled a second day to hear more arguments on Wednesday.

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