Newport News Church Submits Plan to Build Almost 130K Square-Foot Building in JCC Industrial Land

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A drawing shows one of two proposed layouts for the Peninsula Pentecostals site at 9230 Pocahontas Trail. In both layouts, the building (black outlined shape on the left) and parking (shaded gray) are in the same location. (Drawing by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., courtesy James City County)

The Peninsula Pentecostals, a Newport News church looking to purchase a piece of James City County’s industrial land, has submitted to the county a conceptual plan for a new church building that will include a daycare center and parking.

Currently, James City County is involved in a process to overhaul its zoning ordinances for the industrial district following a number of what the county is calling inadvertent omissions. The Peninsula Pentecostals are accusing the county of trying to block its plans to build a church because the county proposed eliminating churches as a by-right use in the industrial district.

As the church is working to push the county not to approve the zoning changes, it has also submitted a plan laying out the church and daycare facility it intends to build, as well as parking lot.

The plan submitted to the county shows a plan to construct a 129,750-square-foot building — that’s more than half the size of the Williamsburg Outlet Mall — at 9230 Pocahontas Trail to include a 2,400-seat sanctuary, a secondary worship area, classrooms for Christian education, a nursery for childcare, administrative offices, music rooms, a gym, meeting rooms, a kitchen and reception hall and an outdoor recreational area with playgrounds, picnic areas, walking trails, ball fields and courts. A child day care center is listed separately in the plan description.

A 7,200-square-foot garage or shed is also included in the plan, as are 480 parking spaces. One entrance drive from Pocahontas Trail into the parking lot is also included in the plans.

Included with the conceptual plan submitted to the county is a letter from the church’s attorney, Tim Trant of Kaufman and Canoles. The letter details the process the church has gone through to the point the conceptual plan was submitted, including speaking with county staff about their intention of purchasing the land and their plans to build on it through two Planning Commission Policy Committee meetings and one Planning Commission meeting and public hearing, which was continued to 7 p.m. Wednesday.

“Beyond being nefarious and illegal, the efforts of the county to subvert the development of a church on a portion of the property has caused substantial financial and emotional harm to my client and has jeopardized its equitable interest in the property,” Trant wrote in the letter to the county.

He continued to say he remains optimistic the county will allow the church to build as planned under the current by-right uses allowed in the industrial zone. If the county does not allow the church to build by-right, Trant asked the zoning ordinance changes “not apply to any property and land use for which a landowner or contract purchaser … has submitted a conceptual site plan.”

As it stands now, county procedure requires the Development Review Committee, comprising five of the six current planning commission members, to review any plans including a building of more than 30,000 square feet.

Leading up to a DRC meeting, county staff reviews applications, inspects the site and considers the impact of the plan on the surrounding land uses. County and state agencies, such as the Virginia Department of Transportation, the fire department and the James City Service Authority, review and comment on the plan and then staff makes a recommendation based on all comments and observations. Staff then presents the information to the DRC at its meeting and the DRC, following discussion, makes a decision to recommend approval or denial, or defers action.

The DRC’s decision would then go before the Planning Commission for a vote.

The Peninsula Pentecostal’s plan was received by the county Monday and has not yet been reviewed.

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  1. “Yes, the churches are tax exempt. But that comes at a price, through IRS filings, other regulatory filings, and restrictions on political action.”

    What does that even mean? IRS filings, regulatory filings? Boo Hoo…..I’m sure churches are crippled financially because they have to fill out a little paper work to save 10’s, even 100’s of thousands of dollars a year by avoiding paying property taxes. It comes at a price for non tax exempt people as well. It’s called 50 hours a week working for the man so that he/she can pay their taxes.

    And restrictions on political action? Why should a non-profit church have any say in politics? It’s not like the religious right ever shoves their self serving propaganda down our throats at every turn. Imagine if all of the churches could chime in as well come election time, or any other time for that matter. Boy, we’d have the Pope as POTUS in no time. We’d call him POPEUS!

    Sorry that you feel that the civil servants that teach our children, save our property and protect our lives are adequately reimbursed for their service. They aren’t. But you are correct that nothing should impede any individual from giving extra to these people or the organizations that represent these people. “Snake Charmer should give his or her money to these people”…….I’ve got news for you, I do give to these “government” employees. Guess how? That’s right, I pay my property taxes. As well as all of the other taxes that I pay. I just feel that everybody should be shaken down equally.

    I’m not “encouraging the government to take more of other peoples money by force”. I’m encouraging the government to take what should rightfully be paid by churches in the way of property taxes. Imagine if I could just convince the government that the Harry Potter books were real. Then I could convert my house into a Harry Potter Temple. Then I wouldn’t have to pay taxes or anything. Boy, I could build a big ‘ol house. And then I’d invite all my friends over to read passages out of Goblet of Fire. We could sip wine and everything. It would be a hoot! But that would just be silly wouldn’t it?

  2. Yes, the churches are tax exempt. But that comes at a price, through IRS filings, other regulatory filings, and restrictions on political action. Thankfully churches rely on voluntary donations, instead taking money by force through taxation. If a person really believes that government school teachers, police, and government firefighters deserve more, nothing prevents a person from donating to that person or an organization that assists those persons. “Snake Charmer” should simply give his or her money to these people that he thinks or feels deserve it, instead of encouraging the government to take more of other people’s money by force to fund his pet concerns.

  3. Will there be a snake room?

    And no, churches do not pay property taxes. Anywhere as far as I know. How else can they can afford to build massive 3 acre churches and even more massive parking lots. Just imagine the tax revenue if all of the churches in the Williamsburg Triangle paid property taxes. We might have some additional monies to hand out pay raises to the people that really need and deserve it…..teachers, police, fire fighters, etc. But no, we will continue to cut the churches a break because that’s the way it’s always been.