Issues Remain for Mount Zoar Church

Issues Remain for Mount Zoar Church

New Mount Zoar Baptist Church would like to build a place of worship in Centreville. But it must first obtain a special permit from Fairfax County to construct it in a residential area.

It also has to solve some transportation and open-space problems. And last Tuesday, Feb. 20, attorney Steve Fox told the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee the progress it's made so far.

The 200-member church is currently on Braddock Road in Fairfax, but is selling its land there and hopes to build a new, 16,265-square-foot church on nearly six acres it purchased on Ordway Road.

NEW MOUNT ZOAR proposes a church with 450 seats and 158 parking spaces. And if all goes as planned, the congregation would like to be in its new sanctuary by late 2008.

Before then, however, said Fox, the church has three big issues to resolve to the county's satisfaction:

* Since it would be on land zoned Residential Conservation (RC) — meaning it's environmentally sensitive — at least 50 percent of the site must remain undisturbed.

* There needs to be a left-turn lane or other transition from Ordway Road.

* An acceptable stormwater-management system has to be put in place.

Regarding that issue, said Fox, "There'll be underground storage of stormwater — vaults under the parking lot. We're removing the existing stormwater-management pond, and we'll then be able to have more open space."

As things stand now, 38 or 39 percent of the site is open space. But part of the problem is that the property is encumbered by easements — a sanitary-sewer easement to the north and a Fairfax County Water Authority easement to the south.

"When it's built out, it'll have 147,000 square feet open space — almost three acres — which amounts to 57 percent," said Fox. "So we think we've made significant improvement and have gone above and beyond what's required."

As for transportation, he said project representatives met recently with representatives from VDOT and the county Office of Transportation. "Our traffic study indicated a full left-turn lane isn't necessary," said Fox. "But the county department of transportation requested a left-turn lane from Ordway because it's two lanes and has a 45-mph speed limit."

SO VDOT has now asked the church to provide it with two scenarios to deal with this spot. One possibility is a bypass lane — not a full-blown, left-turn lane, but a smaller turnout. The other option is a modified left turn that could stack six to eight cars at a time.

"Fairfax County said either one would be all right, but they asked us to put pen to paper and show them both plans," said Fox.

WFCCA's Chris Terpak-Malm asked what type of screening the neighbors on both sides would have, and Fox said either "beefed-up landscaping or a board-on-board fence." WFCCA's Carol Hawn asked if there are plans for a trail along Ordway, and Fox replied that the church will put in a 5-foot-wide sidewalk there.

The special-permit request already had a public hearing before the county Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), but final decision was deferred until March 27. So Fox told the WFCCA members that he'd like to return before them on March 20 to present the revised proposal to them.

In the meantime, he planned to meet last Thursday, Feb. 22, with members of the Ordway Conservation District to apprise them of the church's intentions in their neighborhood.