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Zoning Board OKs McLean Church’s Plans to Expand Child Care

After delays due to the pandemic, the Fairfax County Board of Zoning Appeals approved changes that will allow a McLean church to expand its child care offerings.

The St. Thomas Episcopal Church (8991 Brook Road) wants to add a child care center that will be open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. on weekdays along with the current nursery school. The church would like to have up to 99 kids on-site at any one time.

“What we’re trying to do is modify the conditions to bring a nursery school that was approved almost 25 years ago to modern standards and to meet the expectations of what families are looking for in 2020 for child care,” a representative for the church said.

Currently, the zoning ordinance limits the church to having its nursery school divided into morning and afternoon sessions with 50 kids max per session and hours from 8 a.m.-3 pm.

The church representative said that there is barely any need for a mid-day drop-off, saying that parents need all-day daycare.

More from the staff report:

The proposed child care center will operate within the same building as the existing nursery school, and no exterior renovations are proposed as part of this application… In a nursery school, children aged 2-5 years old are limited to four hours of care per day, while children 5+ years old are limited to six and one-half hours of care per day. In a child care center, there are no time limits on the number of hours of care per day.

The nursery school/child care center will continue to have a maximum enrollment of up to 99 students at any one time. The children will be aged from 2 years through 5 years…  The applicant indicates that the nursery school/child care center facility will serve both parishioners and residents of the surrounding community. The facility will have 10-15 staff members…

Staff with the Fairfax County Department of Transportation (FCDOT) raised concerns with the impact that additional vehicles would have on the afternoon peak hours of operation at the intersection of Lewinsville Road / Brook Road / Leesburg Pike…

Staff with the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) estimates the intersection improvements will be completed by the end of 2022, with the construction of sound walls, streetscape, and lighting continuing to 2024… [The] applicant has agreed to, a development condition restricting the number of students to 50, for either three (3) years or until the intersection reconfiguration is complete — whichever occurs first.

The BZA was originally going to consider the changes in May, but the application was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the agenda.

The church has undergone three expansions, according to county documents. If the church proceeds with a fourth construction phase, the church would be able to offer up to 325 seats in the main area of worship and the parking spaces would increase from 70 to 90, county staff said.

“The final Phase 4, which includes a significant expansion of the main sanctuary, has not yet occurred. The Church has indicated that while they have no immediate plans to construct Phase 4, they wish to maintain their right to do so in the future and propose no changes to the previously approved layout as part of this amendment,” according to county documents.

The church currently has a fenced, 25,000-square-foot playground.

On Wednesday, the zoning board approved the proposed changes to allow for the child care center.

Image via Google Maps

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