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Botetourt Supervisors commission study of historic slave quarters

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BOTETOURT CO. (WSLS 10) - After public outcry over plans to move two historic buildings, Botetourt County supervisors are now reviewing their plans.

The board is founding the Greenfield Preservation Advisory Commission to help guide that move.

It's also commissioning an archaeological study of the area.

People opposed to moving two historic slave quarters say they understand it's a hard decision.

"We want to see Botetourt grow, but we also don't want to destroy what it's built on," said Cheryl Sullivan Willis, a descendant of slaves who lived on the property more than 200 years ago.

Sullivan Willis hopes this planned study of the area will discover people buried there and put talks of moving the buildings to rest.

"I'm guardedly hopeful. I think that's the way a lot of us feel, because it's very important that we acknowledge and respect the last resting place of these people," said Sullivan Willis.

Supervisors say to conduct a study of the historical area, archaeologists will need to remove about six inches of the topsoil, then use ground penetrating radar to determine if there are actually graves under the ground.

They say development in the area is important for the county.

"The more commercial industry that we have in Botetourt, that takes the burden of the tax load off of the tax payers and the homeowners," said Supervisor Billy Martin.

Martin says this particular spot also has a price tag on it.

"Virginia Department of Transportation will give us another 5 hundred thousand dollar gift, or forgiveness for that road that they built and put in there, and one of the stipulations on that is we were to get industry in there, corporations in there, in a certain time limit," said Martin.

Martin says there are already several companies interested in the land, but Sullivan Willis says there has to be another way to save the historic plantation.

"Out of 932 acres, I think that we could find a way to work out preserving 19," said Sullivan Willis.