BZA Gives Blessing to New Church

BZA Gives Blessing to New Church

July 11, 2002

Things looked pretty bleak for Capital Worship Center after the May 21 meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee. Told that its plan to build a new church in Centreville lacked enough open space, it only got approval to build one of the project's two phases.

But after making adjustments providing the requisite amount of open space, the church fared much better last week at the county Board of Zoning Appeals. It emerged from the Tuesday, July 2, BZA meeting with the go-ahead to build both phases.

"I was very pleased," said church attorney Steve Fox. "Over the past few years, we've been trying to get churches to look at their buildings in a 10-15-year profile. It helps them think about their future needs and focus their fund-raising campaigns and financing on an ultimate plan, instead of [something] piecemeal."

In Arlington since 1967, Capital Worship Center recently sold its building there and many members moved to the Centreville/Manassas area. A branch of the same church meets at Centre Ridge Elementary, but congregants now want a place of their own.

They needed the county's permission to build a sanctuary, related facilities and a preschool on 11.7 acres at Ordway and Compton roads and Route 28 in Centreville. A special permit is required because it's in the residential-conservation (R-C) district.

Originally, two buildings were proposed but, at county staff's request for more open space, the church decided instead to construct one building in two phases. Phase one is a multipurpose building to seat 500; it will contain a childcare center operating from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. to avoid peak-traffic hours.

Phase two is a 10,000-square-foot addition with 400 more seats for 900 seats total. The county requires 50-percent undisturbed open space on R-C land but, in May, the church's plan only had 46 percent. But it's since reconfigured the parking and grading around its stormwater-management pond to increase that percentage to 47.5.

The church also has to increase its on-site parking to achieve a ratio of one space to three seats in the church, and none of the parking may spill off-site. Furthermore, although the church initially wanted an entrance and exit on both Ordway and Compton roads, it's agreed to just use Ordway.

Otherwise, VDOT would have made it widen the curb and gutter all along its portion of Compton — which would have been cost-prohibitive for the church. It would have also had to put up a gate on weekdays, plus signs, preventing cut-through traffic from Ordway to Old Centreville Road.

Fox said the church had "considerable community support, and it helped tremendously." Church representatives met twice with the WFCCA and nearby Crofton Commons and Compton Village residents who "gave good input on the traffic issues. Crofton Commons didn't want us to use Compton Road because it was already congested; they wanted us to use Ordway."

He said churches have such a tough time finding land nowadays that this parcel was really something. "I've been working with the Capital Worship congregation for four years on this," said Fox. "Now they can go forward with their site plan."