Council approves demolition of church

Trinity Episcopal Church’s plans to build a new sanctuary in Old Town Manassas came one step closer to reality Thursday night.

Manassas City Council voted 5-1 to allow the Trinity to tear down its Family House at 9326 Battle St., allowing the church to expand its existing building onto the grounds occupied by the house.

The church had previously wanted permission to tear down the house it allows Habitat for Humanity to use at 9323 West St., but the church has now decided to study whether it might expand its existing sanctuary without tearing down the organization’s offices.

“I think this is a reasonable compromise,” said Councilman Eugene Rainville.

The City Council’s approval of Trinity’s expansion went against the wishes of the city’s Architectural Review Board, which ruled Jan. 8 that the houses on Battle Street and West Street deserved historical protection.

Councilman Ulysses “Xerk” White, the only member of the council to vote against tearing down the Battle Street house, said the preservation of Old Town’s historic nature was more important than the needs of any one person or group.

“We have limited assets. And we should maximize our efforts to save all,” he said.

Reflecting on how Trinity has had a church in Manassas’ downtown since the early years of the community, Councilman J. Steven Randolph said the council was now in the position of having to choose between two goods.

“Saving Trinity and allowing it to flourish here is the greater good for the community,” he said.

Trinity’s proposed expansion would include a new sanctuary, an enlarged parish hall, kitchen facilities and an elevator for the disabled. The new church would be able to seat up to 350 worshippers, three times more congregants than the church now holds.

The church’s spiritual leader, the Rev. Stuart Schadt, has said in the past that the expansion is a way for Trinity “to build and grow in Old Town, because we value its history.”

Schadt said Thursday that the church hopes to work out zoning issues such as parking and preservation of trees next month. If all goes as planned, construction may begin as early as next spring.

Also Thursday night, the council voted unanimously in support of the city’s plans to apply for a $1.5 million Federal Terrorism Preparedness Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Among the items listed in the application is $250,000 to pay the salary of a deputy police chief for the next two years. The council turned down funding for such a position earlier this year.

Staff writer Chris Newmarker can be reached at (703)368-3101, Ext. 119.

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