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.”