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Chesterbrook United Methodist Church and Montessori School of McLean share a building at 1711 Kirby Road in McLean (via Google Maps)

The Montessori School of McLean could soon have the property at 1711 Kirby Road all to itself.

The private elementary school has occupied the nearly 4-acre parcel since the early 1970s, but the site has been shared with the Chesterbrook United Methodist Church, which constructed its longtime home there in 1920.

Now in its 110th year, the church plans to relocate and has proposed selling the property to the Montessori school, a legal representative for the school said on its behalf in a special exception application to Fairfax County.

Received by the county on Sept. 13, the application requests that the school be permitted to stay on the property, even though it will no longer be used for any religious purposes as currently zoned.

“[Montessori School of McLean], as tenant and contract purchaser, seeks to continue its long standing tradition of serving McLean families with quality education and child care on the Property,” Holland & Knight land use attorney David Schneider said in a statement of justification.

The school says no physical changes to the site are planned, and it has proposed leaving the existing enrollment cap of 265 kids in place.

Opened in 1973 with one primary and one elementary class, the school now serves kids aged 2 to 12 with pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, and first through sixth grade classes, along with a child care center.

According to the application, the school doesn’t anticipate any significant traffic impacts, but it is seeking to expand weekday operating hours from 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. to 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

The change will “allow additional child care coverage and help spread out the trips from this existing use away from the peak hours” of 7:45-8:45 a.m. and 5:15-6:15 p.m. at the Kirby Road and Old Dominion Drive intersection, Schneider wrote.

According to its website, Chesterbrook UMC started at one of its members’ homes in 1906 before constructing the church building that it has now occupied for over a century. The church didn’t respond to FFXnow’s inquiry regarding the planned sale and where it will be relocating by press time.

According to county property records, 1711 Kirby Road was valued at $3.6 million for the 2022 tax year, including over $1.5 million for the land and $2 million for the current church building. Virginia exempts real estate used for religious purposes from paying state and local taxes.

As a private school, the Montessori school won’t receive the same exemption once the church transfers ownership of the property.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

A car at the Franconia-Springfield Metro station pick-up line (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Sidewalk Projects Planned to Address Route 7 Pedestrian Safety — Virginia and Fairfax County officials are working to add sidewalks along Route 7 in the Culmore area of Bailey’s Crossroads. Prioritized sites include the Liberty gas station where a pedestrian was hit and killed by a vehicle in December, prompting safety advocates to campaign for improvements. [Annandale Today]

Person Rescued from Lincolnia House Fire — “Units arrived on scene with smoke visible and fire on the second floor. Two of three occupants evacuated the home prior to fire department arrival. One occupant was trapped in a bedroom. Crews rescued the occupant via a ground ladder — unharmed!” [FCFRD]

Former FCPD Officer Sentenced in Daughter’s Death — Jason Michael Colley pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree assault in Frederick County Circuit Court last week in connection to his 6-month-old daughter’s death in 2017. Sentenced to a combined 50 years, he will serve eight in private home detention and serve five years of supervised probation on the condition that “he not engage in physical punishment of children.” [ABC7]

Old Dominion Drive Closed for Two Days — “Old Dominion Drive (Route 738) will be closed to through traffic between Balls Hill Road (Route 686) and Route 123 (Dolley Madison Boulevard), weather permitting, from 9 a.m. Monday, Aug. 8 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 9 to replace stormwater pipes…Traffic will be detoured via Balls Hill Road, Lewinsville Road (Route 694) and Route 123 back to Old Dominion Drive.” [VDOT]

Two Charged in McLean Church Burglary — Two men were reported forcing entry into the Faith Bible Presbyterian Church (6901 Haycock Road) through a window at 5:17 p.m. on July 31. Officers found the 18-year-olds inside the church, taking property. They were both charged with burglary and property destruction, and one of them was charged with providing false identification to law enforcement. [FCPD]

Reston Assault by Teens Under Investigation — “Officers from the Reston District Station of the Fairfax County Police Department are investigating an assault that occurred Wednesday night in the South Lakes area, according to the weekly crime report. Around 10:45 p.m., a group of teens stole property and assaulted a person in the 11900 block of Barrel Cooper Court…The victim was treated for non-life-threatening injuries” [Patch]

Renovation of Merrifield Fire Station Complete — “After a little over two years, the renovation at Station 30, Merrifield, is complete. [Thursday], crews moved back in. Station was totally operationally during the renovation with a trailer for personnel in back. The reno included an addition of 440 square feet.” [FCFRD/Facebook]

Graffiti by Soldiers Revealed at Historic Fairfax Farmhouse — “Between March 1862 and June 1863, hundreds of Union soldiers left their enduring marks in charcoal, graphite or crayon on the walls of the attic and first and second floors of Historic Blenheim, a brick 1859 farmhouse and 12-acre estate on what is now Old Lee Highway.” [WTOP]

It’s Monday — Humid throughout the day. High of 91 and low of 76. Sunrise at 6:17 am and sunset at 8:13 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Garfield Memorial Christian Church on Great Falls Road in McLean (via Google Maps)

Garfield Memorial Christian Church wants to stay in McLean, but in order to do so, it may need to sell part of its land.

The church’s board of trustees is seeking a special permit from Fairfax County that would enable it to construct a new, two-story building on a 0.87-acre portion of its property at 1731 Great Falls Street, according to an application filed on July 11.

To fund the project, which will replace the existing church built in 1960, the board proposes selling the remainder of its 4.1-acre parcel for residential development, a statement of justification for the application says.

“The applicant has deferred needed repairs and upgrades for many years due to funding constraints,” Walsh Colucci Lubeley & Walsh land-use attorney Lynne Strobel wrote on the board’s behalf. “The applicant has a small but vibrant congregation that wants to continue the operation of the church on Parcel 21A. It has become necessary for the applicant to seek creative ways to remain on its property in McLean.”

A church staff member declined to comment on the proposal when contacted by FFXnow, stating that it’s too soon to share details when the county hasn’t officially accepted the application for review yet.

According to its website, Garfield Memorial Christian Church started as a mission church in 1955 under the Capital Area Christian Churches and United Christian Missionary Society. It held its first service in Pimmit Hills Elementary School before relocating to its current building in 1961.

For the new building, the board of trustees envisions a single structure “constructed of frame and masonry with a peaked shingle roof.”

“The building will be constructed in a traditional architectural style and include a steeple,” the application says. “A small accessory storage shed for lawn equipment will be located on the subject property.”

The church will encompass approximately 7,593 square feet of space, including a 100-seat sanctuary, as well as a cellar not included in the gross floor area. The building “will be consistent” with the single-family, detached houses that surround the triangular lot, the application says.

With two full-time staff members, the church has daily office hours from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers Sunday services at 10 a.m. and noon.

According to the application, the new building will need 25 parking spaces. A traffic impact study estimated that it will generate approximately 51 trips when travel peaks during the Sunday morning service.

The statement of justification says a fence and transitional screening will be provided as a buffer between the church property and the surrounding homes.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

A plane at Dulles International Airport, visible from Chantilly (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Man Arrested for Fairfax Church Thefts — “On June 28, our officers responded to the Saint Mary’s of Sorrows Catholic Church in Fairfax for a man who stole a purse from a car in the parking lot. The man used stolen credit cards from the purse at several stores nearby. On July 4, the same suspect returned to the church and stole from two donation boxes. At least one stolen check was cashed from donation box.” [FCPD]

Covid Cases Close Reston Pools — “RA is currently experiencing a lifeguard shortage due an uptick in Aquatics staff testing positive for Covid-19. As a result, the Ridge Heights and Upland pools will be closed for the next five days (Friday through Tuesday).” [Reston Association/Twitter]

Silver Line Delays Not Justified, McKay Says — Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay says any further delays of Metro’s Silver Line Phase 2 project “will be met with a lot of discontent.” He’s hopeful the rail extension will open this fall but wants to be certain that a $250 million budget increase approved earlier this week will be the last needed payment. [WTOP]

Vienna Lodge Seeks Funds for Repairs — “Vienna Moose Lodge, a fraternal organization that does community service work, launched a Save the Lodge fundraising campaign this week to help remain open and continue its mission…One of the major repairs needed is a new HVAC system in the banquet hall that will cost $35,000.” [Patch]

Ribbon Cut on Reston Affordable Senior Housing — “It was warm this morning but still a great turnout for the ribbon cutting for Hunters Woods Fellowship House! Much needed $26 million renovations provide modern & safer home for many older residents.” [Walter Alcorn/Twitter]

Herndon Company Expands HQ — The defense and intelligence contractor Expedition Technology has signed a lease amendment for its corporate headquarters offices “that will support its current and anticipated growth.” Lasting through June 2033, the new agreement doubles its office space from approximately 32,000 to more than 64,000 square feet and can accommodate up to 170 workers. [CityBiz]

GMU Joins Gun Violence Research Effort — “Fifteen members of a consortium of local schools will pool their resources, researchers and faculty experts in areas including maternal and child health, public policy, mental health, criminology and technology, officials said. The goal is to provide lawmakers and the public with steps they can take to drive down gun violence.” [The Washington Post]

Good Pups Visit McLean Nursing Home — “Fairfax County senior residents are getting some furry visitors at their nursing homes thanks to a group of volunteers at Pets on Wheels…The non-profit is run by volunteers that say pets can be therapeutic for senior citizens.” [ABC7]

Cool Off With Dolley Madison Library — “#Fairfax teens can beat the heat Saturday at our Dolley Madison branch. We will meet at the library before heading to McLean Central Park for a sponge war! Sponges provided. Wear clothes that can get wet (minimum shorts & shirts required).” [Fairfax County Public Library/Twitter]

Cirque du Soleil Makes Tysons Return Next Week — “Cirque du Soleil has become the gold standard of 21st century circus productions…The global brand brings ‘KURIOS: Cabinet of Curiosities’ to the Under the Big Top tent at Lerner Town Square in Tysons, Virginia from July 29 to Aug. 27.” [WTOP]

It’s Friday — Clear throughout the day. High of 90 and low of 75. Sunrise at 6:03 am and sunset at 8:30 pm. [Weather.gov]

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Police leave the Fairfax County Courthouse (file photo)

(Updated at 5:40 p.m.) A Fairfax man who once served as a youth leader at the Saint Matthews United Methodist Church in Annandale has been arrested for multiple alleged sexual assaults of a teenager, the Fairfax County Police Department said today (Thursday).

Thomas Weaver, 61, was arrested yesterday (Wednesday) and has been charged with five counts of indecent liberties of a minor by a custodian as well as 20 counts of possession of child pornography, the FCPD announced.

According to police, Weaver led youth activities at Saint Matthews periodically since joining the church at 8617 Little River Turnpike in 2001, but he hasn’t held that leadership position since 2020, when the assaults allegedly occurred.

“On multiple occasions since 2020, Weaver coerced the victim to meet him in a secluded area in Annandale,” the FCPD said. “Once there, Weaver sexually assaulted the victim.”

Per the news release, police were alerted to the assaults last month by a family member of the victim. Fairfax County detectives deployed a search warrant for Weaver’s residence yesterday and found “numerous images of child pornography,” leading to his arrest.

“Saint Matthews United Methodist Church has been fully cooperating with the police on this matter,” police said. “The church also notified the Fairfax County Child Protective Services with concerns about Weaver.”

The church contacted CPS about Weaver about 10 days ago, according to St. Matthews spokesperson Paul Steidler, who sent a statement to FFXnow:

St. Matthew’s UMC is saddened and deeply troubled by this event. Our fervent prayers and heartfelt concerns go out to those directly impacted by the situation and for whom this is a troubling, triggering event.

St Matthew’s UMC is fully cooperating with law enforcement on this important matter. We urge anyone who may be able to aid law enforcement on this case, or who knows of any inappropriate actions towards children, to immediately contact law enforcement.

St. Matthew’s UMC has rigorous child protection policies and is completely committed to having a safe and secure environment for all children.

The FCPD says detectives haven’t identified Weaver’s previous sites of employment yet, but they believe there could be additional victims, since he might have worked as a youth leader at other churches in the past.

The department asks anyone with information about the case, including if they or their child could be a victim, to call its Major Crimes Bureau at 703-246-7800, option 3. Tips can also be sent anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone (1-866-411-TIPS) and online.

Weaver is currently being held at the Fairfax County Adult Detention Center without bond.

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Fairfax County police car (file photo)

Local police are investigating an incident of arson and graffiti that occurred at St. John Neumann Catholic Community Church in Reston yesterday (Sunday).

The graffiti, which was found at the entrance of the church and multiple areas in the back, was related to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which previously guaranteed the federal protection abortion rights, according to the Fairfax County Police Department.

Although FCPD did not immediately disclose the specifics of the graffiti, the police department has stepped up patrols at places of worship following the vandalism.

Police are reviewing surveillance footage as the investigation continues. The FCPD is also working with regional law enforcement agencies on the investigation.

In a statement released yesterday, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff McKay strongly condemned the “attack on a house of worship.”

“We will not permit any action that seeks to diminish or silence someone’s point of view, and categorically reject violence or any act of extremism, period,” McKay wrote in the statement.

The Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department arrived on the scene at 6:45 a.m. yesterday after smoldering mulch was discovered at the Catholic church. Fire crews determined an accelerant was used in the fire and discovered graffiti in multiple locations.

Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the FCPD using the following information:

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to contact detectives at 703-478-0904. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone – 1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), by text – Type “FCCS” plus tip to 847411, and by web – Click HERE. Download our Mobile tip411 App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.

The church did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The Fairfax Presbyterian Church wants to repurpose 1.6 acres of its parking lot for 10 townhomes for lower-income people.

It’s holding another open house tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 a.m. in its fellowship hall with a question-and-answer session about the proposed project, which requires Fairfax City Council to rezone the area.

The church is seeking to partner with three nonprofits and help house individuals currently making $79,700 or less as well as families of four with an income of $113,850 or less, targeting people in the 40% to 80% range of the area median income.

The church envisions offering a 30-year mortgage, but with land leased at $1 per year, it will remove some $100,000 to $300,000 in land costs that other homeowners might face. Building height and design would be comparable to nearby buildings on the eastern border of the property, according to an application.

The proposed project comes through a partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, homeless services organization Homestretch and HomeAid Northern Virginia, which is tied to the Northern Virginia Building Industry Association.

“Eight units will be sold with a long-term ground sublease to income eligible Habitat NOVA families and two of the units will be sold to Homestretch for their Sacred Homes Program,” the church’s application says.

However, a representative of a local advocacy group for affordable housing says city staff seem to be catering to a handful of vocal opponents, thereby putting up roadblocks.

Judy Fisher said the city has required two traffic studies so far to understand changes from the pandemic, but then asked for a third traffic study. She said it’s creating hardship for the project, which has relied on pro bono work for the studies.

City spokesman Matthew Kaiser said the project’s application was received May 6, 2022, and is currently under its first round of review.

“There will be only one traffic study,” he wrote in an email.

But Fisher said the church decided to pursue the project five years ago, and the partnership submitted two applications in 2021, receiving staff comments.

“There has been what feels like not very good cooperation from the city,” she said. “It feels like obstruction.”

According to a church flier, it submitted a rezoning application last year in February and resubmitted it Oct. 27.

The flier says the church has committed up to $400,000 with the land to serve families needing affordable housing.

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Morning Notes

The Filene Center at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts (staff photo by Angela Woolsey)

Police Make Progress on Hannah Choi Murder Case — Fairfax County detectives believe they know the location of the man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend and dumping her body in a Maryland park, according to Police Chief Kevin Davis. He says the department anticipates apprehending Joel Mosso Merino, who has been on the run since March, “in the very near future.” [WTOP]

Circuit Court Officially Adds First Female Judge of Color — “Tania M.L. Saylor, the first woman of color to serve as a Fairfax County Circuity [sic] Court Judge will be presented her official commission on Friday, May 6, at 4 p.m. in Courtroom 5J of the Fairfax County Courthouse. The public is invited to attend the investiture ceremony.” [Fairfax County Government]

Key FCPS Official Named Fairfax City Superintendent — “The City of Fairfax School Board didn’t look far when picking its next superintendent. The board on Monday offered Jeff Platenberg the role. Platenberg currently works for Fairfax County Public Schools as the assistant superintendent for facilities and transportation services.” [WTOP]

Locally Owned Coffee Shop Opens in Newington — “Two neighbors who live close to the Landsdowne shopping center are now the owners of a new coffee shop. The locally owned Coffee In opened a few weeks ago and will celebrate its grand opening this Saturday at 6432 Landsdowne Centre Drive.” [Patch]

Herndon Foster Mother Starts Nonprofit — The nonprofit Foster the Family “will show up to a foster home, within the first 24 hours, with dinner, clothes, PJ’s, hygiene products and all the supplies a child needs, saving the parents an emergency trip to the store, and helping the child feel comfortable in what can be a scary transition.” [ABC7]

McLean Church Builds Labyrinth — “Trinity United Methodist Church dedicated a labyrinth as its new Prayer Garden on Easter morning between worship services…The labyrinth is surrounded by plantings and benches with lighting to facilitate an atmosphere worthy of spiritual reflection and meditation. It is the most significant labyrinth in scope and size in the McLean area.” [Sun Gazette]

South County Students Send Letters to Seniors — “In Lorton, Virginia, 92-year-old Bernice Alexander reads from just one of the dozens of letters received at her senior living community. They were written by teenagers at South County High School, and some come with artwork, paintings and cheery posters, too.” [NBC4]

County Adopts Bill of Rights for Kids’ Sports — “The Fairfax County Department of Neighborhood & Community Services (NCS), along with the Fairfax County Athletic Council, is pleased to adopt the Children’s Bill of Rights in Sports. Developed by the Aspen Institute Sports and Society Program, this is a new resource designed to ensure that all children have a right to a quality sports experience.” [NCS]

It’s Wednesday — Mostly cloudy throughout the day. High of 75 and low of 61. Sunrise at 6:08 am and sunset at 8:05 pm. [Weather.gov]

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La Biblia Church Ministries proposed building on Popes Head Road (via Fairfax County)

A two-story church just shy of 50,000 square feet in size is coming soon to Fairfax.

La Biblia Church Ministries, Inc. is seeking the county’s blessing to build the church, which will be located at 11600 Popes Head Road.

Although the Board of Zoning Appeals approved the project in October of last year, the board required the applicant to apply for a special permit before proceeding with construction.

The church would be constructed in a single phase, but interior improvements would be phased out, starting with plans to build a 650-seat fellowship hall. A second phase of improvements would include a sanctuary with up to 1,000-set hall.

Classrooms are also planned as part of the project, but it currently does not include a private or nursery school.

The latest application to Fairfax County increases the number of parking spaces from 224 to 302, along with similar increases in the amount of undisturbed and open space.

The project butts heads with the Virginia Department of Transportation’s plan to improve the Fairfax County Parkway and Popes Head Road. The ministry group plans to dedicate roughly 26,00 square feet of the right-of-way required to move that project forward.

A single access point to Popes Head Road is proposed during the first phase of development. A connection to Shirley Gate Road is planned during the second phase.

A series of public hearings prompted La Biblia Church to tweak its proposal. The building was shifted further north to allow further separation from Popes Head Road. More landscaping is also proposed between the road and building while access to the main road is more linear.

The house on the property will remain for a member of the proposed church.

The application has been flagged for a number of deficiencies in submission materials.

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Temple Baptist Church (via Template Baptist Church)

A longtime Herndon church is planning a move deep into Ashburn.

Template Baptist Church, located at 1545 Dranesville Church, plans to open a new church campus. The church currently has 19 acres of land at Marley Corner.

“Although we enjoy our beautiful facilities, we’ve pretty much outgrown them at our current location in Herndon,” the church said in a statement.

Miller Brothers, Inc. and Building God’s Way have partnered on the project. Currently, the main frame of the building is taking shape.

The move — the date of which has not been determined yet — comes as a housing development takes shape on the former McMillen Farm lot adjacent to the church.

A development of 13 single-family units is planned on nearly six acres of land. Tradition Homes, an Arlington-based company, successfully sought the county’s approval to rezone the property to allow additional density on the site. The site was previously approved for one unit per acre.

Church representatives did not provide comment on whether its move is related to the development. Currently, the site has been razed and leveled.

Tradition acquired the property in 2019.

The developer is working with Fairfax County on plans to establish a memorial to commemorate the historical significance of McMillen Farm, which was home to a house, a garage, shed, conservatory, and barn. The elements of the property were constructed in the early 1900s.

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