Members of the Mormon Church in the Falls Church/McLean area are planning to take their case for a new meetinghouse directly to those living near the proposed building before the Board of Zoning Appeals acts on their application.
This week the BZA heard testimony from proponents and opponents of the project, planned for the intersection of Great Falls Street and Kirby Road.. But the board delayed making a decision on the application, which calls for a controversial 400-car parking lot, until its Oct. 16 meeting. Fairfax County Supervisor Nancy Falck, within whose magisterial district the proposed church would be built, had asked the BZA to defer hearings on the case, but the board proceeded anyway.
"We plan to go into the community. There is a willingness to meet with the affected neighborhoods and civic associations," said Charles Shumate, attorney for the church.
The proposed church caught residents and county staff members in the Dranesville office by surprise two weeks ago. Notices of the application, which was filed in mid-July, apparently never were received by Falck's office or by George Lilly, chairman of the Fairfax County Planning Commission.
The planning and zoning committee of the McLean Citizens Association voted against the proposal by a single vote during a recent meeting. Shumate and members of the local stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, as the Mormon Church is formally called, planned to take details of the project to the full McLean Citizens Association. A stake in the Mormon Church is similar to a diocese of the Catholic Church.
The proposed parking lot for 400 cars apparently is the main concern of residents, who note that virtually the entire six-acre tract would be paved over. The paving, they fear, might exacerbate flooding problems that already plague nearby neighborhoods during heavy rainfalls. There is also concern about traffic that would be generated.
Shumate said, however, that profiles of the project showed that the parking lot would be extensively terraced, making it more attractive and helping to alleviate flooding problems .
Church members and Shumate will be meeting with members of Falck's staff as well as other residents to try to solve problems before the Oct. 16 vote by the BZA.