New Life Wants a Sanctuary

New Life Wants a Sanctuary

Last year, Washington Eden Korean Presbyterian Church got permission from the county to build a church on 11.3 acres at Cedar Spring Road and Route 29 in Centreville.

But those plans have since fallen through, and now New Life Christian Church — which currently meets at Westfield High — wants to build its sanctuary there, instead.

The site is just east of the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Route 29, and New Life is requesting permission to have its name substituted on the special permit already approved by the county. It also wants to make some minor changes in the plan.

Representing New Life, attorney John McBride presented details during the Nov. 18 meeting of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee. Attending from the church was the Rev. Todd Wilson.

MCBRIDE SAID 300-400 families currently attend two services at Westfield High. He also said the church wants to purchase the land in Centreville and build the same size sanctuary previously planned for that spot.

"But there'll be slightly less parking spaces in phase two, and we've made a slight site modification," he said. "The county required the [previous] church to [achieve] 50 percent open space when it went to final site-plan [approval]. We've done that by eliminating a turn-around; there's no reason to have an asphalt, hard-surface turn-around."

The WFCCA's Chris Terpak-Malm was concerned that the proposal had no place on the street for overflow parking, but McBride said it wouldn't be needed because "we're way over the parking [space] requirement." He also noted that, entering off Route 29 at the top of Cedar Spring, "we're not going through the neighborhood, and there's a median break at Cedar Spring."

The WFCCA's Carol Hawn said she applauds New Life for attaining the 50-percent open space requirement. And, she added, "If the church grows so much that it needs overflow parking, a shuttle could be arranged from Bull Run Elementary, about a block away."

However, Kelly Baker of the neighboring Gate Post Estates community pointed out that Sunday traffic from Centreville Baptist Church, across the street from the proposed new sanctuary, already blocks one lane of traffic on eastbound Route 29.

"And with traffic from Virginia Run heading east, there's a lot of opportunity for traffic congestion on Sunday," he said. "So what are your plans [to deal with it]?"

McBride said the county's Office of Transportation determined that, since New Life is a much smaller church than Centreville Baptist, its traffic flow shouldn't be a problem. "We would not be stopped at a log jam," he said. "And we have two exit points."

The Rev. Wilson said small-group meetings will be on weekdays and evenings. Furthermore, he added, "We will look at the service times and, if we need to adjust them [so as not to conflict with Centreville Baptist's], we will."

The WFCCA's Terry Spence said the police "know how to keep that traffic moving. Your church won't affect traffic there, one iota." The WFCCA's Mary Coyle then moved for approval of the special-permit application and encouraged New Life to try to regain the 11 parking spaces it eliminated, "without jeopardizing the 50-percent open space [achievement]."

The WFCCA then unanimously approved the proposal. Next step for New Life is a hearing, this coming Tuesday, Dec. 16, before the county Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA).