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Council Defers Church Decision

City residents object to ‘piecemeal’ planning.

Residents of the city’s Chancery Park neighborhood will have to wait until February to find out if they will have a church for a neighbor.

A proposal by One God Ministries and its trustee Johnson Edosomwan to construct an 11,000-square-foot church at 4280 and 4282 Chain Bridge Road, north of Canfield Street, met with opposition from residents of the area who took issue what they called a “piecemeal” development plan.

“One of the things we’ve been asking from Day 1 is, what is your overall plan for this area?” said Randy Green, who lives in the nearby Chancery Park neighborhood. Edosomwan owns a large swath of the property along Chain Bridge Road, and School and Canfield streets.

At least one Councilmember agreed that something appeared to be happening to the area. “There seems to be some implication that there is some overall plan,” said Jeffery Greenfield.

Residents said that the area is a “gateway” area into downtown Fairfax, and it should be treated comprehensively. “I’d like to see this entire parcel planned,” said Gail Wade, another nearby resident. “I’d like to see it all nailed down.”

Edosomwan said that the plans for the other properties are in the works, including a possible two-story parking garage on Canfield Street. He further pointed out that any development will be a public process. “Everyone in Chancery Park, including the City Council, will have a say on what will be done,” he said.

SEVERAL MEMBERS of the congregation came to speak in favor of the proposal. “We fully support the application,” said Carla Mazique of Centreville.

Edosomwan has met with neighboring residents several times and, he said, has made concessions to them regarding the neighborhood. “If there is one thing I have promised them and did not deliver, I want them to stand up and say so,” he said. No one did.

Another issue surrounding the church was parking. The plan calls for a 50-space parking lot to be placed on the property and for the church to have a capacity of 200 parishioners. Currently, the congregation is between 50 and 60 members, said Stephen Fox, Edosomwan’s attorney.

Edosomwan offered to allow the use of one of the adjoining properties he owns as overflow parking, should it be necessary, and to use any other proposed parking, such as the parking garage, should it be built. “Nobody’s going to bamboozle this Council,” said Fox.

Councilmember Joan Cross moved to approve the church with several conditions, but her motion died when it was not seconded.

The City Council then approved deferring the decision on the church until its Feb. 22 meeting by a 4-2 vote — Councilmembers Gail Lyon and R. Scott Silverthorne were opposed.