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Green Springs Historic District

Zion Crossroads, Virginia
County of Louisa.
Northeast of Zion Crossroads on U.S. 15
National Register Number: 73002036
Resource type: District.
Property type: Historic District: Architectural. The threat level was Watch in
2006.
Congressional District: VA-4 Certified Local Government: NO
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Current use/information: Historic District.
Web Site: www.nps.gov/grsp.

Statement of Significance (as of designation - May 30, 1974):
This exceptionally fertile area of Piedmont Virginia survives as a viable rural neighborhood composed of flourishing historic estates. The residential and farm buildings of the District represent over two hundred years of flourishing historic estates.

Condition:
Virginia Vermiculite Limited still mines vermiculite within the district. The area of the mining activity has not increased and is still contained north of US Highway 22. Development continues to place pressure on the district. Just south of the district in Zion’s Crossroads, a large distribution center was constructed and more industrial development is expected. A large housing development which contains over 1,400 homes and a golf course is currently being built. This has significantly increased vehicular traffic. The tract of land that was owned by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the proposed prison was sold. It is currently being utilized to mine water for use in the Zion's Crossroads development. Approximately one million gallons of water per day is being piped from the district. There is great concern that the long term effects and the recharge rate of the aquifer have not been studied. Historic Green Spring's has challenged the use of the water in state court. This could have a negative effect on the agriculture, creeks and wells in the district if the level of water mining impacts the water table. The issue of the unauthorized activity continues. After the owner of one property under easement removed the historic front porch, a preliminary injunction was granted in US District Court to prevent the land owner from further unapproved work. After removing the historic siding, he was convicted of criminal contempt of federal court. The property has recently been sold without the restoration of the siding and porch. The NPS is working with the new land owner to correct the previous damage. The extraction of groundwater on the 190-acre tract East of U.S. Route 15 would destroy the groundwater resources essential to the agricultural and preservation land uses of the historic district and the conservation easements held by property owners in the district. Fifty acres of this tract have already been purchased by Louisa County from the Commonwealth of Virginia with the purpose of extracting groundwater for the Zion Crossroads Development Zone, several miles south of the district. Historic Green Springs, Inc. has brought suit against the Commonwealth and Western Land Co., LLC in Louisa County Circuit Court to block the sale of the remaining 140 acres to Western Land Co., LLC. The intent of Western Land is also to mine groundwater resources to serve an off-site residential development of some 1,200 homes proposed in the Zion Crossroads area. The extraction of massive quantities of groundwater from the district has great potential to affect large numbers of landowners.

The issue of the unauthorized activity continues. After the owner of one property under easement removed the historic front porch, a preliminary injunction was granted in US District Court to prevent the land owner from further unapproved work. After removing the historic siding, he was convicted of criminal contempt of federal court. The property has recently been sold without the restoration of the siding and porch. The NPS is working with the new land owner to correct the previous damage. Among the many court actions affecting the District, the Virginia Supreme Court unanimously affirmed the validity of negative easements in gross for the purposes of land conservation and historic preservation. This landmark decision had considerable implications on all of the easements in Green Springs, other NPS easements in Virginia as well as preservation easement for numerous organizations across the state. In the past year, we have renegotiated easements to reduce the number of possible subdivisions. In conjunction with Historic Green Springs, Inc., we negotiated the donation of a 288 acre easement with architectural review on one of the most visible properties in the district. We are currently negotiating a new easement on approximately 400 acres of land on the North section of the district. These tracts have significant vermiculite deposits (estimated to be in excess of $150 million). These new easements will prohibit mining and will help to minimize the spread of mining within the District.

Recommendation/Change since last report:
Technical assistance may be necessary in the future regarding both the above threats. Mining and water resource technical experts have been contacted and are available if needed. Coordination is needed between the easement holders within the District. Also needed are new easements, public outreach and development. Explanations of the visual standards by which easements are monitored once obtained should be developed.


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