(WTAJ) — A proposed Sheetz location in Middletown, Virginia has a group of concerned individuals raising their battle flags.
The Exit 302 Smart Development Coalition wrote an open letter to Pennsylvania residents voicing their concerns over the convenience store chain’s plan to build a truck stop on nearly 20 acres of land where the Battle of Cedar Creek occurred over 150 years ago during the American Civil War.
Coalition organizer Robert Clark directs the letter to Pennsylvanians who reside in Blair County and Altoona where Sheetz’s headquarters are located. Clark asks residents to join them in reaching out to the company on the issue.
“The Exit 302 Smart Development Coalition, this strong and resolute ‘band of neighbors,’ seeks to prevent through productive, thoughtful, and meaningful dialogue, and through EPA guided smart development practices, the wholesale annexation and destruction of the beautiful natural rural landscape, environment, untouched history, and the rural lifestyle and culture of Frederick County, Virginia,” a statement on the coalition website read.
The group also reportedly plans to send flyers to Altoona residents in an effort to raise awareness.
The store location is planned to be constructed on the eastern side of Interstate 81 just off of Exit 302. An Exxon gas station currently resides in this area but the community group says it only utilizes a couple of acres. The area they say is “hallowed ground” and is the only remaining piece of land where that section of the battlefield remains undeveloped.
Sheetz Public Relations Manager Nick Ruffner provided a statement to WTAJ saying the company is working with the group to resolve their concerns.
“Sheetz is appreciative of the feedback it has received regarding its proposed location in Middletown, VA. As a family owned and operated company, Sheetz strives to be the best neighbor we can be in every community we serve,” Ruffner said. “Representatives of Sheetz have met with the community group to understand their concerns. We look forward to continued dialogue with local officials and the community as the process continues.”
The Battle of Cedar Creek was fought on Oct. 19, 1864, when Confederate Major General Jubal Early launched a surprise attack on Union troops that were camped along the east bank of Cedar Creek in the Shenandoah Valley, according to the American Battlefield Trust. Union Major General Phil Sheridan then launched a counterattack that halted Confederate advances in the area.
The coalition says the land is where some of the bloodiest fighting occurred and where Pennsylvanian ancestors fought in the battle.
The nearly 20 acres of land is reportedly under contract by Sheetz and zoned for commercial use.