In late October, Mount Olive Baptist Church in Centreville broke ground for a new sanctuary. Trouble is, it hadn't received county approval for recent revisions to its plans.
So now the whole shebang again needs Fairfax County's review and OK before it can proceed. Attorney Steve Fox explained it all Tuesday night to the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee.
"WE WERE sure we were going to get an administrative approval and not have to go through the public-hearing process again," he said. "We hope to be at the Planning Commission in the spring and at the Board of Supervisors in summer and have our site plan approved in late summer/early fall."
In 1999-2000, Mount Olive sought and later received approval for a rezoning to add more land and a special-exception permit to build a preschool/childcare facility. "At that time, the central premise was retaining the existing church," said Fox. "They later discovered the design was too expensive to build."
At the groundbreaking, Mount Olive planned a 52,000-square-foot building with seating for 1,000. Now, although the structure would be basically the same, the footprint is slightly different and larger — a 55,000-square-foot church to seat 1,500.
Said Fox: "We think this design is a better one, more in keeping with the needs of the church." Also proposed are 587 parking spaces — 481 in the lot next to the church on Mount Olive Road, and 106 overflow spots across the road.
The church plans two soccer fields across the street but, in its first approval, the county held the church responsible for improving Mount Olive Road when it begins building its phase-two recreation site.
Meanwhile, builder Stanley Martin — constructing homes along Old Mill Road in Centreville — has agreed to help improve Old Mill, Mount Olive and Old Centreville roads. Fox told WFCCA he believed that would take care of the church's obligation on Mount Olive Road, but WFCCA's Carol Hawn said most of that developer's work would be on Old Mill.
"I DON'T believe Stanley Martin is being required to improve Mount Olive Road to the extent it needs to be improved," she said. "Mount Olive [church] is a good neighbor, but I have a lot of problems with churches being approved without having to make the necessary [road] improvements."
Since the church plans were initially approved, said Hawn — a resident of the nearby Old Mill community — more than 100 new homes have been built in this area. "That's an additional burden on a somewhat substandard [road] area," she said. "We can't get out of our driveway because of traffic on Waterwheel Way. And it's not just Mount Olive [traffic] — it's Centreville United Methodist Church — and we still have to deal with Capital Worship Center."
Hawn told Fox she was "quite shocked" to see an artist's rendition of the proposed, new church because it was "nothing like what I saw originally." She said its traffic "has the greatest impact on my community" and that area also has "drainage issues all the way to Compton Road."
Engineer Jeff Abravesh said the church would complete the drainage improvements. "We're doing underground [stormwater] detention — which is very expensive," said Fox. Added Abravesh: "This will be 100 times better than what the church has now to control runoff."
Hawn said she wants an archaeological survey done, plus blasting proffers to protect nearby residents. And At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart said a safe, pedestrian route is needed from the overflow parking area to the church. "People coming west on [Mount Olive] clip the corner and go too fast, and they might not realized pedestrians will suddenly appear," he said. "So maybe the pedestrians should [cross] more at the middle of Mount Olive Road, than at the corner."