Debate continues on St. Margaret’s expansion plans

Representatives of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church went before the Prince William Planning Commission on Wednesday night to try and get a special use permit to build a new church on 37.5 acres on the north side of the Prince William Parkway approximately three quarters of a mile west of Hoadly Road.

More than a 100 people attended the meeting including residents of Hampton’s Grove, a nearby neighborhood. Residents of Hampton’s Grove are afraid a new church, with more than 400 members, would disrupt serenity and bring additional traffic to their neighborhood. They don’t want the church in their back yard.

As of 11 p.m., both sides remained, duking it out, at the commission meeting in the Board of County Supervisor room at the McCoart Building. The planning board staff recommended denying the special use permit. The commission had not voted on its recommendation to the board of supervisors as of deadline.

St. Margaret’s officials say they want a church that is bigger and more visible than the current church on Longview Drive.

“We want to be a community church in the community where we live,” said Chloellen Miller, St. Margaret’s chair of design and building committee. “We’re turning in a petition tonight and most of the signatures are from the Coles District.”

The new church would be approximately 40,000 square feet, which is almost double the size of the current church. Plans include a 200-space parking lot.

Church officials said most of the congregation lives closer to the proposed, mid-county site, which is currently zoned A-1 agricultural and designated semi-rural residential in the 1998 Comprehensive Plan.

George Kowals, a resident who opposes the construction of a new church, said: “It basically goes to the four corners of the denial by the county staff. It was denied on environment, fire and rescue, potable water and sewer.”

Bill Resavy, a resident of Hampton Place, said his opposition was not based on religion, but the issues the board listed.

St. Margaret’s, a well established church with 40 years in the community, hosts Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts and opens its doors to teachers and other civic groups.