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Merrifield-Area Montessori School Gets Extension for Required Improvements

Since 2015, the United Methodist Church and Montessori School of Cedar Lane has been trying to get inline with local zoning ordinances, and at a County Board meeting the Board of Supervisors granted another extension for the church and school to get their house in order.

The school was approved special exception in 2014, contingent on development conditions, but a staff report on the project said the school and church has been been out of conformance with the Zoning Ordinance.

“The application was approved with a requirement that a Non-Residential Use Permit (Non-RUP) be issued within 24 months of the approval date in order to establish the use,” staff said. “In addition, the development conditions mandated that certain improvements, including approval of a minor site plan (MSP) with parking lot and stormwater improvements, enhanced landscaping, removal of certain gravel surfaces, improvements to the parking lot and recordation of a reservation for future right of way dedication, be satisfied prior to issuance of the Non-RUP.”

An extension was first granted in mid-2016 for 12 months, which was eventually extended to July 2020.

A representative of the church and school said the organization is not experienced in handling development issues, which has resulted in delays.

“The applicant has been working to fulfill all development conditions associated with SE 2013-PR-021,” staff said. Ms. [Lynne] Strobel states that the applicant is a non-profit and inexperienced in the process of obtaining permits and approvals associated with zoning and land use. As a result, the implementation of the approval has taken longer than anticipated.”

Strobel told staff the applicant is working with a civil engineer to get the improvements done as quickly as possible, though the pandemic created additional financial challenges due to the school’s closure. However, staff said the applicant reported that it plans to commence the required work within the next year.

The school was approved for 18 additional months to get the needed work done.

Image via Google Maps

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