Supervisor's Panel Backs Leesburg Muslim Center - Leesburg Today Online—Daily News Coverage of Loudoun County, Leesburg, Ashburn: News

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Supervisor's Panel Backs Leesburg Muslim Center

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Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012 10:30 am | Updated: 1:07 pm, Thu Feb 6, 2014.

The Board of Supervisors’ Transportation/Land Use Committee has recommended the full board approve modifications requested to construct a mosque on property along Sycolin Road near Leesburg.

The Muslim Community Center of Leesburg plans to build a mosque for up to 300 people on five acres between Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park and the Leesburg Executive Airport. The Blue Ridge Sports Academy also has plans in place on 12 acres adjoining the mosque site, but construction has not yet begun.

The minimum acreage for a religious use, which is allowed by-right on the property, is 10 acres, and the Muslim Community Center also is requesting a reduced parking setback to a two areas on the property where parking would be.

Project manager Jane McCarter told the committee the site is bisected by future extension of Sycolin Road, and the community center representatives want to be able to build the mosque on five acres so it could be located entirely to the east of the future realignment.

While county planning staff members support the project overall, the biggest concern remains that it would require a permanent permit pump and haul septic system—which is requested in a separate application.

County policies do not allow permanent pump and haul for new construction and county supervisors were not as supportive of that application. The four members of the committee present at Friday’s meeting were evenly split on whether to recommend approval. Committee chairman Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) said she has experience with pump and haul approvals that do not work.

“I am actually dealing with this on another special exception application in my neck of the woods, and I see the problem with a pump and haul that has gone on too long,” she said. “I will not support this application. I would like to be consistent and follow direction of health department.”

However, Supervisors Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Matt Letourneau (R-Dulles) noted past boards have approved pump and haul applications for religious organizations, and Higgins noted the staff members only object because it is not allowed under the county’s Comprehensive Plan for the zoning along Sycolin Road.

“I think it is important for the corporate Board of Supervisors to be consistent particularly when it comes to how we deal with religious institutions,” Letourneau said.

Higgins also pointed out the Phil A. Bolen Memorial Park, another church in the area and the property for Loudoun Soccer immediately adjacent to the mosque’s property all operate with pump and haul services. He also added a requirement that the mosque hook up to central sewer when it is extended to the area within 300 feet from their property—to avoid the pump and haul continuing in perpetuity.

But while they are connected, at least one supervisor’s opinion on the pump and haul application should not prevent the mosque from moving forward.

“Being that this is in keeping with what we’re requiring [in this area], I certainly support this application and support this project,” Vice Chairman Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) said. “The pump and haul is tied to this project, but I am not making my decision based on that.”

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Welcome to the discussion.

4 comments:

  • Frank Reynolds posted at 6:57 pm on Mon, Nov 19, 2012.

    Frank Reynolds Posts: 621

    Why do they even do a comprehensive plan in this area? Zoning is worthless around here. Just apply for rezoning or an exception and you'll get it.

    I don't care what it is, it is more traffic for Sycolin which is already at capacity.

    Someone should also tell Higgins (wow...he showed up to this meeting!) and LeTourneau that "we did it last time" isn't a reason to do something again. Loudoun has done a lot of things with land use planning that shouldn't be done again. I know they are afraid of looking like they are discriminating, but the health department has decided there is a new standard. Hold new construction, in developed areas to that.

     
  • SatchMo posted at 5:11 pm on Mon, Nov 19, 2012.

    SatchMo Posts: 189

    I am sure Delgaudio will have something to say about the Muslims moving in. He needs to find out if, "they come in peace".

     
  • David Dickinson posted at 3:13 pm on Mon, Nov 19, 2012.

    David Dickinson Posts: 926

    As a Sycolin Road commuter I would like to point out that since the Muslim holy day is Friday, Friday traffic--which already backs up well past Shreve Mill-- will be exacerbated by adding an "event" every Friday.

    That's not a reason to deny the application, but churches and synogogues operate during the lighter traffic week-end. This will have a Friday rush hour effect that needs to be taken into consideration.

     
  • mas954 posted at 12:59 pm on Mon, Nov 19, 2012.

    mas954 Posts: 352

    The PARKING is going to be a HUGE problem. Sycolin Road is already stressed enough with traffic. Allowing an exception for parking is yet another problem. Stick to the guidelines in place. They are there for a reason. Stop with the exemptions already!

    Additionally, it is impossible to limit a mosque / church / temple to 300 people. If 305 show up, do you turn away 5 people?

    "The minimum acreage for a religious use, which is allowed by-right on the property, is 10 acres, and the Muslim Community Center also is requesting a reduced parking setback to a two areas on the property where parking would be."