Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Church Easement Vote Set for October 7th

All residents should have received a packet from TWC in the mail containing notification of the upcoming Hickory Cluster SPECIAL MEETING: CHURCH EASEMENT VOTE on October 7th at 7:30pm RCC-Lake Anne as well as a proxy form. Note: Proxy must be received at the office of TWC on or before 1pm 10/7/09.
Background from earlier post...
Over the last few years, the United Christian Parish Church has been working on plans to expand their present building to approximately triple the size of what it is now. The plan includes the removal of the "rectory" house that currently exists on North Shore Drive next to Hickory Cluster (Block 3) and a portion of the existing woods and trees to be replaced by additional parking and a brand new parking lot access onto North Shore Drive.

The above drawing (click to enlarge) reflects the church expansion plans as of October '08. The church has approached HC to ask for a HC vote on a county easement (2/3 of resident "yes" vote needed) on cluster property bordering North Shore Dr. between HC and the proposed new parking lot outlet that would require HC to remove all obstructions to visibility (trees, vegetation, green power box, etc.) back 25ft to satisfy the county by increasing motorist visibility while exiting the church from the new access. The church has offered to pay for the cost of the vote and the costs involved in complying with the easement.


  1. Mona,

    I agree with you completely. There is absolutely no motivation or justification for a yes vote.

    The church is certainly not being neighborly with their plans to build a 50' high structure with an 80' high spire.
    The parking lot will go right to the HC property line and will drastically alter the surrounding landscape.

    I urge all HC residents to vote 'No' on the easement. HC will not get any consideration for this easement.

    If their proposal included some strong financial incentive like a significant donation to the Goodman fund, there might be some legs for their request for the easement to stand on.

    In its current state, there is no reason whatsoever to vote yes.


    Sean Joyner HC block 3

  2. I sent in my NO vote 10 days ago. Hard to understand how RA could condone such a huge expansion next to a residential area like Hickory Cluster. Folks on Block 3 have a "monster" in their back yard.
    --jim livingood, Block 1, Hickory Cluster

  3. What's not being shown to anyone at this point are the complete plans for the expansion which essentially is increasing their square footage threefold. Furthermore, due to county requirements, based upon the size of the congregation they also have to expand the parkinglot by about the same factor. Between the two aspects of this increase in size plus the driveway, we're going to see an enormous removal of trees from their property. That means those people whose property backs up to the church will lose all privacy and be staring straight into the new super-sized church once completed. Their back decks will be only a few feet away from parking spaces and will have car headlights beaming straight into their second and third-floor bedrooms and living rooms. The church is active at night weekdays already and in winter even as far away as we are at 11541 = approximately 150', the car, parking, and building lights beam straight into our back rooms at night when on.

    My fear is this project will be a major problem for curb appeal of our cluster - effecting all of our property values...and while the church has sought our council on some planning aspects, but they aren't exactly good neighbors. They've put up sheds outside the church that do not comply with RA standards, have expanded the driveway probably without permit/license, and bull-dozed some trees in the parking lot already to expand slots (while the rest of us are written up on minor infractions).

    I agree completely with a 'no' vote for this easement.

  4. What are our options to challenge their plans? I agree that their current plan is going to drastically change the character of the neighborhood. For decades the church has been as it is. Why are they being allowed by the county and RA to change?

    Who can we call or where can we send a letter to object to the plan?

    Block 3

  5. Sean, you might ask Fred Swartzendruber, the Board President, or Ralph Youngren, a Block 3 Board Member for ideas on who to contact.
    --jim livingood, Block 1, HC

  6. The illustration above shows the extent of the proposed church expansion.

  7. Sean,
    Have a feeling this expansion issue was decided months ago and further discussion is not useful. Otherwise why is everyone else silent? Guess I will go back into hibernation.
    You should get on the Board with your pro-active spirit. -- jim livingood, Block 1, HC

  8. We could express these views at the meeting. My understanding is that the church has already had approvals from most of the planning bodies involved, and this process has been going on now for a couple of years.

    There seems to be a strong pro-growth feeling among most officials so while Design Review Board can nitpick about aesthetic issues, there is a strong push toward more density as a way to increase tax revenue. The only things slowing this down are the traffic studies required, and new regulations on stormwater management.

    In addition to the church, there is the recent zoning change for Lake Anne, and now the Fairway Apartments proposal for high-rise units.

    Fred Swartzendruber

  9. It's a little incredulous they didn't offer something like building a new tot lot or something for a yes vote. They offered to pay for the vote! Ha! I'm with Sean, anyway to shut these thing down? I'm all for higher density. Done right it can add value and increase home value. A church parking lot right behind your house instead of beautiful trees, umm no.


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