Massive Church Planned

Massive Church Planned

Korean Church would be largest church built in the county.

After 31 years in Vienna, the Korean Central Presbyterian Church wants to build a 2,500-seat church on 80 acres off Route 29 in Centreville, adjacent to Bull Run Elementary.

TUESDAY NIGHT, members of the West Fairfax County Citizens Association (WFCCA) Land-Use Committee received an update on the project, and the church's size and traffic generation quickly became issues — as did access to a historic, black cemetery behind the site.

The numbers, alone, are mind-boggling. The building, itself, would occupy 286,000 square feet on 3.4 million square feet of land. With a congregation of 3,000, plus 1,000 children, three parking areas are planned to accommodate 1,200 vehicles. That would mean nearly 40,000 square feet of asphalt on land zoned RC (residential conservation).

"It would be the largest church in the county," said resident Frank Ojeda of the Rock Hill Civic Association. "This could be 7,000 square feet bigger than McLean Bible Church — which is 279,000 square feet. This is almost as big as Westfield High School."

The site is between Route 29 and Compton, Pleasant Valley and Bull Run Post Office roads. The church needs a special-exception permit from the county so it may build a place of worship, daycare center and private school on RC land.

The site would be accessed only by a right turn and, on Sundays, the church would use the same, signalized intersection as Centreville Presbyterian Church, across the street.

The proposal includes an educational wing, small chapel, fellowship hall, administrative offices and gym/social hall. Weekdays, it would be used for a 150-child, daycare center, plus a 100-child elementary school for grades K-2.

NOTING THAT Route 29 is two lanes each way, Ojeda said he feared traffic on it would become "horrendous, like it is outside McLean Bible Church. Said Ojeda: "A church doesn't pay taxes, so who pays for the road [upkeep]? Me, and everybody else here."

He said traffic will be spread "all up and down Route 29 and affect traffic on Pleasant Valley and Bull Run Post Office roads. Residents' quality of life will be affected and, when we're all sitting in traffic, it'll put pollution into the air."

Since first unveiling plans for the church at the WFCCA's Dec. 21 meeting, development manager Joe Drake and church representatives have met with the Virginia Run and Bull Run Estates communities. As a result of their comments and those made at December's meeting, he said, "We're trying to purchase some parcels closer to Route 29 so we could push the building further east to create a buffer between us [and the nearby homes]."

If that's not possible, he said, the church might possibly move its proposed baseball field so parking could be shifted further away from the homes. He said the church will also see if Bull Run Elementary wants to use some of its parking.

Drake said the church will consider keeping open the areas where people now go horseback riding, and he discussed a possible dedicated access to Cub Run Memorial Gardens "so our traffic won't interfere with [the cemetery's] traffic." He said the church proposes either moving Naylor down and then rerouting it up to the cemetery or providing access into it from Route 29. But a cemetery representative doubted if a realignment would work.

"I don't know if you understand the impact on the indigenous African-American community here," added the Rev. Eugene Johnson of Mount Olive Baptist Church. He also suggested widening Naylor Road to aid emergency vehicles. Said Johnson: "The issue is not maintaining access to Naylor Road, but maintaining access to the cemetery."

The church will do a historical study of its land and, possibly, an archaeological dig — which WFCCA Chairman Jim Katcham strongly encouraged. As for traffic, said Drake, "We need to get together with the rest of the pastors and ministers along Route 29 so we can decide how best to handle [it] so Sundays so we don't create a massive traffic jam. We'll also talk to VDOT and the county transportation people."

HE SAID residents recommended that the church reduce the amount of impervious surface on the property, "perhaps making part of the building two-story to make [its] footprint smaller and our building more compact." And he said the church will try to preserve as many of the large trees as possible.

Katcham commended the church on its outreach in garnering community input and, he added, "I think the meeting with other churches is a great idea."

Noting all the impervious surface the parking lots would consume, WFCCA's Carol Hawn asked if the church had considered a parking deck. "The challenge is money," replied Drake. "It would cost three times as much as a parking lot."

He said there'll be no site access from Compton Road, but the church is preserving that possibility in the future in case the Tri-County Parkway someday cuts the church property in half and cuts off its access. But, said Hawn, "Deal with it when the time comes. We need to preserve the RC."