Staff Contact:                                                      Scott Clark

Planning Commission:                                        May 10, 2005

Board of Supervisors:                                         June 1, 2005


SP 2004-00051 Free Union Church of the Brethren

SDP 2005-00041 Free Union Church of the Brethren Site Plan Waiver


Applicant's Proposal: The applicants plan to add a meeting hall of approximately 1,400 square feet onto the existing Free Union Church of the Brethren. The church is an existing nonconforming use that requires a special use permit in order to expand.


Staff is recommending a waiver of the site plan requirements for this use; see the comments below under “Staff Comment (Site Plan Waiver).”


Petition: The applicants are requesting a special use permit to allow an expansion of an existing church, Free Union Church of the Brethren, in accordance with Section 10.2.2(35) of the Zoning Ordinance which allows for churches. The property, described as Tax Map 29 Parcels 57, 58, and 59B, contains 2.5 acres and is zoned RA, Rural Areas.  The proposal is located at 4152 Free Union Road (Route 601), approximately 1,000 feet south of its intersection with Willington Road (Route 665) in the Whitehall Magisterial District.  The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Area 1. 


Character of the Area: The church is located on the outskirts of Free Union, in an area including both farms and small residential parcels.


Planning and Zoning History: This existing church does not have any previous special use permits. The existing church building was built in the late 1960s or 1970s.


Comprehensive Plan: The Comprehensive Plan designates this property as Rural Area.


Applicant’s Justification For The Request: The applicants need a meeting hall and have no meeting space outside their sanctuary. The hall and sanctuary will not be used simultaneously, and the level of use on the site will not increase. See the conceptual plan (Attachment B) for the proposed layout of the site.


Recommendation: Staff recommends approval of SP 04-051 with conditions. Staff also recommends approval of the site plan waiver.


STAFF COMMENT (Special Use Permit)


Staff will address each provision of Section of the Zoning Ordinance below:


The Board of Supervisors hereby reserves unto itself the right to issue all special use permits permitted hereunder.  Special use permits for uses as provided in this ordinance may be issued upon a finding by the Board of Supervisors that such use will not be of substantial detriment to adjacent property,


This approval would not increase the intensity of use on the site, and would not create impacts on adjacent properties. The three nearest dwellings are approximately 450 feet away. A large farm is located to the west, adjacent to the cemetery parcel.


 that the character of the district will not be changed thereby,


Churches are a permitted use in the Rural Areas district, and are a longstanding feature of the rural landscape.


and that such use will be in harmony with the purpose and intent of this ordinance,


The use is not expected to be in conflict with the intent of the Zoning Ordinance, or of the Rural Areas zoning district.


with the uses permitted by right in the district,


This is a small church and does not host meetings or other activities for other organizations at this time. The addition is planned for the use of church members. The church serves members of the community and is not in conflict with agriculture, forestry, residential uses, or other by-right uses in the district.


with additional regulations provided in Section 5.0 of this ordinance,


There are no additional regulations in section 5.0 for this use.


and with the public health, safety and general welfare.


The only safety concern with this site was sight distance at the entrance. The applicants have revised their concept plan to show an entrance that is acceptable to VDOT. Sight distance is also limited by vegetation on a neighboring property. The landowner has given consent for that land, which is already under a power-line easement, to be kept clear to maintain sight distance for the church. VDOT has approved this arrangement, and will accept a plat showing the location of this sight-distance clearing as part of the entrance approval in recommended condition 5 below.


STAFF COMMENT (Site Plan Waiver)


The Zoning Ordinance addresses the need for a site plan in Section 32.2.1 which states:


32.2.1 A site plan shall be required for any construction, use, change in use or other development in all zoning districts; provided that no site plan shall be required for the following:


a. The construction or location of any single-family detached dwelling which is located upon a lot whereon are located or proposed to be located an aggregate of two (2) or fewer dwellings.


b. The construction or location of a two-family dwelling on any lot not occupied by any other dwellings.


c. Any accessory structure to a single-family detached or two-family dwelling.


d. Any agricultural activity except as otherwise provided in section 5.0.


e. Any change in or expansion of a use provided that: (1) such change or expansion does not occasion additional parking under the requirements of this chapter; (2) no additional ingress/egress or alteration of existing ingress/egress is recommended by the Virginia Department of Transportation based on intensification of use; (3) no additional ingress/egress or alteration of existing ingress/ egress is proposed. (32.2.1, 1980)


This project requires a site plan due to the proposed changes to the entrance only.  If no changes to the entrance were proposed or required, this project would not require a site plan.  The other changes to the site, building expansion, do not create the need for a site plan as it does not occasion the need for additional parking. 


The Zoning Ordinance does permit the waiving of the site plan requirement in Section 32.2.2 which states:


32.2.2 The foregoing notwithstanding, after notice in accordance with section, the commission may waive the drawing of a site plan in a particular case upon a finding that the requirement of such plan would not forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public interest; provided that no such waiver shall be made until the commission has considered the recommendation of the agent. The agent may recommend approval, approval with conditions, or denial of such waiver. In the case of conditional approval, the agent in his recommendation shall state the relationship of the recommended condition to the provisions of this section. No condition shall be imposed which could not be imposed through the application of the regulations of section 32.0. (32.2.2, 1980; Amended 5-1-87)


Staff has analyzed this application and is recommending approval of a waiver of the drawing of a site plan, with conditions.  The method staff used to reach this recommendation is included below.


The submittal of a site plan meeting all of the criteria of Sections 32.5.6 (Preliminary Site Plan Content) and 32.6.6 (Final Site Plan Content) would not in the opinion of staff forward the purposes of this chapter or otherwise serve the public interest.  The submittal of a plan will provide substantially more information than currently provided.  However, the proposed level of development is limited and the plan provided by the applicant for review with the special use permit has allowed staff to analyze the impact on this project on adjacent properties. Prior to development the applicant will need to obtain approval of an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan.  This will allow the County to address all issues of drainage, both during and after development.  Further, the applicant will have to obtain a permit from the Virginia Department of Transportation for the improvement of the entrance.  This permitting process by VDOT will insure that the entrance is properly designed and installed.  The scale of this project is limited and the use of the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan and the VDOT permitting process will allow adequate protection of the public interest.




This is a minor expansion of an existing nonconforming church, which will increase in area but not in level of activity. Approval of the request would bring the church into conformity with current requirements.




Staff recommends approval of SP 04-051 with the following conditions:


1.       The site shall be developed in general accord with the conceptual plan entitled “Free Union Church of the Brethren Concept Plan ,” revised April 22, 2005;


2.       The area of assembly shall be limited to the existing 90-seat sanctuary;


3.       There shall be no day care center or private school on site without approval of a separate special use permit; 


4.       Construction of the proposed addition shall commence within 4 years or this special use permit shall expire.


5.       The applicants shall secure VDOT approval of the entrance from Route 601.


Staff recommends approval of the site plan waiver, SDP 2005-00041, with the following conditions:


  1. No development shall occur until an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan has been approved and any required bonds have been posted.


  1. No Certificate of Occupancy will be issued for the building until VDOT approval of the installation of the improvements as shown on a plan titled Free Union Church of the Brethren Concept Plan, revised April 22, 2005.




A.     Location Map

B.     Conceptual Plan for SP 04-051

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