Korean Church Presents Revised Plan

Korean Church Presents Revised Plan

WFCCA not pleased with numbers that 'don't add up.'

Representatives of the huge Korean church that wants to build a new place of worship in Centreville presented yet another revised plan to a citizens group Tuesday night.

BUT TWO county planning commissioners were less than thrilled at receiving such a dramatically changed plan just a month before they'll be asked to decide on it. And some members of the citizens group accused the church of playing fast and loose with the projected numbers of their congregants who'll be using the local roads.

"The numbers don't add up," said Carol Hawn of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee. "There are vehicles missing. They go in there and don't come out."

The controversy centers around the Korean Central Presbyterian Church which outgrew its current facility in Vienna and seeks to bring its 4,000 members to a new home off Route 29, next to Bull Run Elementary.

It would be on 80 acres zoned residential conservation (environmentally sensitive) between Route 29 and Compton, Pleasant Valley and Bull Run Post Office roads. So it needs a special-exception permit from the county before anything can be built there.

Besides a 2,000-seat sanctuary and 500-seat chapel, on weekdays the facility would also house a 150-child, daycare center, plus a 100-child private school for grades K-2. Phase one of the project includes the sanctuary, chapel, gym, administrative space and education area. Phase two was initially to add more offices and a Sunday School expansion.

But things keep changing. At Tuesday night's WFCCA meeting, attorney James Downey and engineer Jim Behrend, presented the plan's latest incarnation. Downey said the main building would still have the same square footage, 245,000 square feet, as was planned in March, and the seating in the chapel and sanctuary would remain the same. But other elements were moved or added.

"WE HAVE a revised plan we're considering submitting to the Planning Commission," he said. "We've moved everything north of Naylor Road, which is a significant shift. And we've moved the church building north and east on the site, closer to the front [Route 29]."

Downey said phase two was also shifted closer to Route 29 and near Bull Run Elementary, and overflow parking would now be in two spots in that same area. This plan also contained a gravel road along the property's eastern border and a second building for phase two.

"We put the 50,000-square-foot element in a separate building," said Behrend. Instead of being in the main building as was initially planned, Behrend said the church's English ministry, plus classrooms and worship and recreational space would now be in this new building. And by shifting things around on the site, he said, "We will meet the [county's] 50-percent, undisturbed open space requirement [for this land]."

WFCCA's Judy Heisinger noticed that the revised plan now shows three driveways leading onto Route 29, and Downey said it was done at the request of the county Transportation Department. He also said a traffic light will be at the site's main entrance. Heisinger then took the representatives to task for the projected traffic-count numbers they'd submitted to show the church's impact on the nearby roads.

"Mega churches are coming and we understand that," she said. "But transportation is a big issue, and to have fallacies in your transportation report makes it difficult for us to stand with you. You subtracted the trips for daycare use, on Saturday and Sunday — we're talking about 1,800 trips. But there are other activities, nights and days [that don't seem to be accounted for in the traffic-count numbers]. And transportation will affect most of the neighbors."

Hawn was also concerned because it was revealed for the first time Tuesday that the plan contained an 18,000-square-foot cellar, and she wanted to know its proposed use.

"Your traffic study was based on the 245,000 square feet and didn't include the 18,000 square feet," she said. "And the traffic study should include traffic from Centreville Baptist Church to Bull Run Post Office Road, not just add some numbers from Centreville Baptist Church. What happens to Lee Highway between Pleasant Valley and Centreville Baptist Church?"

DOWNEY HAD no answers, but he said he'd try to get them for her and Heisinger and look at the information's inconsistencies. Behrend guessed the cellar would be used for storage, and Downey said it wouldn't impact traffic volume. Just to make sure, said Hawn, "We need to consider putting on a condition saying it can't be used for classroom or meeting space."

At-Large Planning Commissioner Jim Hart, sitting next to Sully District Planning Commissioner Ron Koch at Tuesday's meeting, also had concerns. "This case is scheduled for a public hearing in 36 days, and Commissioner Koch and I have just seen this [new, revised] plan for 25 minutes," said Hart. "One, whole night has been devoted to this at the Planning Commission, and there's a great deal to be done before then."

Koch asked Downey and Behrend how motorists would someday come and go, to and from the site, from the parcel of land the church doesn't own, near Route 29 and Bull Run Elementary. But they didn't know.

Nearby neighbor Gary Bradford was also worried. "We're already being nailed by the quarry, so we're concerned about your blasting for the cellar and how the runoff will affect our well," he said. "If they develop this without giving us any water and sewer [stopping it at the church property line] we'll have no alternative if our well goes dry because of the blasting."

And Rocky Run's Terry Spence wondered if the church's traffic-study area was large enough. He said Route 29 is a major conduit to I-66 and noted "all the cut-through traffic going through the park to get to Prince William County." Besides Sundays, he said, "If all the churches on Route 29 have their activities at the same time, on the same days — at night — traffic will stop there and this road cannot and will not take it."