Church Expansion Gets Go-Ahead From County Planning Commission

by Karen Goff July 16, 2015 at 3:00 pm 18 Comments

Map of Church of Latter-Day Saints location/Credit: Fairfax County

The Fairfax County Planning Commission has recommended for approval a parking lot expansion for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in north Reston.

The church — which had recently looked into building a new facility elsewhere in Reston — seeks to add 39 parking spaces to its existing 23-year-old site at 1515 Poplar Grove Dr. The parking capacity will increase from 121 to 160 spots, planning documents show.

The site is adjacent to residential town houses, Armstrong Elementary School, a public elementary school, a power substation and a park authority-owned property.

Residents of adjacent cluster Birchfield Woods were unhappy with a 2014 proposal that would take up additional space and remove additional trees. The plan has since been amended to its current form.

Church officials told zoning staff they looked into a parking agreement with Armstrong Elementary as a possible alternative to expansion.

The church said it had pursued parking agreements with public schools previously.

“The church is self-insured. Public schools does not accept that form of insurance,” Rinker Design, the firm hired by the church to do the expansion told county staff in a letter. “The church also has concerns about the safety of families crossing Lake Newport Road. It is a busy street. The church does not consider this a feasible option.”

“The church feels that additional parking is needed to meet the needs of their congregation, to be a good neighbor to the adjacent townhouse residents, and to provide parking with a safe access to the church. There will be no changes to the existing building or current use.”

Some of the development conditions:

  • The church must submit a tree preservation plan and narrative for the site and the site will include a tree preservation fence.
  • Supplemental landscaping is proposed to include shrubs, 51 evergreen trees and nine deciduous trees. Interior parking lot landscaping is proposed to include six additional trees.
  • Stormwater quality will be addressed through permeable pavement, Filterra and storm filter structures.
  • The county is permitting a waiver of a barrier requirement between the church and the surrounding areas because a 25-foot vegetative barrier already exists.

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing to give final approval to the expansion on July 28.

Map of Church of Latter-Day Saints location/Credit: Fairfax County

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