The Board of Zoning Appeals has given final approval to The Young Group LLC’s application to rezone and develop the Davis Church property in Sterling.
Although the developer volunteered to save part of the building, some area residents said it was not enough.
“We’re doing the best that we’re able to do under the law for this neighborhood by approving the special exception,” Board of Zoning Appeals member Rory Clark said.
The Young Group has proposed to build a four-story, self-storage facility on the property at the corner of Davis Drive and Church Road. Company President Robert Young has also committed to save part of the church, moving its recognizable façade and bell tower to another part of the property and donating a small space to the county as a “pocket park.”
Attorney Andrew Painter, who represents The Young Group, estimated that project would cost the company about $100,000 to $150,000.
The Young Group would also donate $5,000 in “seed money” to the Sterling Foundation to start maintaining the pocket park.
Proponents on the board and representing The Young Group pointed out that the self-storage warehouse would have lower traffic impact on the area than other commercial uses which would be by right, and the building’s design fits the county’s Route 28 Corridor Plan, which emphasizes high-density, multistory office and mixed-use development. The Planning Commission forwarded the application to the Board of Zoning Appeals with a recommendation of approval.
“It’s an old building, it’s in horrible shape, it’s had animals living in it, and it hasn’t been maintained in 30 years,” Young said.
Restoring and using the existing building, Young said, is economically unfeasible.
Nine speakers addressed the board to oppose to project.
“One of the things that’s always bothered me about living in the community is Sterling is continually thought of as the ghetto of the community,” Todd Gallant said. Other speakers at the hearing agreed that the development would take away from the neighborhood’s historic character.
“It breaks my heart that we’re losing something so quaint and beautiful, even though, yes, it’s run down, but it can be so much better,” seconded Angela Holmer.
“I think there is a change in Sterling, that they are tired of being the perceived doormat of Loudoun County,” Painter said, “and it’s for this reason that the board [of supervisors] spent several years working on the Rt. 28 policies.”
The board voted 3-2 to approve The Young Group’s application, with Chairwoman Nan M. Joseph Forbes and E. Page Moffett opposed.