The site of a proposed UMW Jewish student center at 1500 College Ave.

UMW Jewish Student Center Public Hearing Set

by | Mar 12, 2017 | Government

By Susan Larson.

City staff are recommending that City Council approve a special use permit and special exception to allow construction of a Hillel center at 1500 College Ave.

City Council will hold a public hearing on the matter at their Tuesday, March 14, regular session meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 715 Princess Anne St.

The 0.43-acre site at the corner of College Avenue and Payne Street contains a 3,694 square foot single family home built in 1979.

In his application, Larry Silver of Silver Companies, who wants to build the center for UMW, said the facility would serve as “a religious institution focusing on the educational, spiritual and related needs primarily of Jewish students at the university.” Hillel is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world.

A public hearing was scheduled in December, but city staff were recommending denial of the project as proposed. They said that while the student center was an appropriate use for the site, the building design needed to be “more compatible with the neighborhood.” The applicant requested the public hearing be postponed, and has revised his proposal.

Silver would demolish the single family home to build a 7,937-square-foot Hillel Jewish Student Center. The original plan was for a two story, 9,800-square-foot facility. The proposed center would have a driveway entrance off College Avenue, and an on-site parking lot with six spaces.

In addition, Silver “has volunteered specific conditions that ensure that additional off-site parking available for this proposed facility will be under construction by UMW prior to the issuance of a
building permit for the Hillel Center.”

College Heights neighborhood residents who oppose the plan have cited parking, traffic, university encroachment into the neighborhood, and construction noise.

The College Heights Civic Association submitted a letter to the city, “stating their non-opposition to the project.” The project has also received support from from Fr. Christopher Vaccaro, Catholic Chaplain at the University of Mary Washington (UMW).

There are three existing student centers in College Heights. The Center for Faith and Leadership is a Virginia Baptist Collegiate Ministry located at 1514 College Ave. The UMW Catholic Campus Ministry is located at 1614 College Ave. The Campus Christian Center, located at 1213 Dandridge St., is an ecumenical student ministry at the University of Mary Washington, supported by the Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran and Episcopal churches, but welcoming students of all faiths.

All three student centers were approved by special use permit, according to Zoning Administrator Mike Craig.

For more information, view Item #5A Memorandum. on the City Council meeting agenda.

College Heights Residents Recommend Alternative Location for Proposed UMW Religious Center

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