A promise by the county’s Planning Commission to continue waging the years-long dispute regarding the development into a housing subdivision of the Shepherdstown-area farm on which was fought at least part of the two-day old epilogue to the Battle of Antietam promises more of the same.
Last month, a Jefferson County Circuit Court decided the planning commission violated the Open Government Proceedings Act in accepting a settlement in its dispute with Maryland-based Faraway Farms LLC that would have handed the developer some administrative allowances in exchange for the project’s acquiescence to the most updated subdivision regulations.
The planning commission has waged a war on both sides of this dispute, at times against the developer, at times against the preservationist group, the Shepherdstown Battlefield Protection Association, which, it’s fair to note was only organized after plans to develop the site were filed with the county.
The U.S. Park Service continues flitting around the edges of the battlefield as part of an effort to determine if the site was suitable for inclusion into either the Antietam National Battlefield or the National Historical Park at Harpers Ferry. Its study isn’t expected to conclude for another year. More than 265 acres have already been set aside for preservation.
In short, as in every battle, both sides make advances, both cede ground and much money continues to be spent on the matter. It’s difficult to accept, however, that this is the best place to put a subdivision of such density, but the county has its own rules about such things. At the same time, the site is difficult to attach must historical sentiment to — the scope of the battle there is just not in the same league as Gettysburg or Antietam — and the site’s uneven terrain and inaccessibility make it unlikely it would ever amass much general interest for anyone but the most diehard enthusiasts.