Monday, February 29, 2016

Scientology Loses Georgia Zoning Battle

September 18, 2009 by  
Filed under Latest News

Possibly the building in question from Google Maps.

Scientology craves this building (Photo from Google Maps)

UPDATE:

Scientology is shot down by the Planning Commission:

In a 3-2 vote, the commission denied the church’s request to rezone a former office building at Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive into its Georgia headquarters. Members David Rubenstein and Donald Boyken dissented.

The vote is nonbinding but will be considered by the City Council during its vote. The City Council is scheduled to vote on the issue at its Oct. 20 meeting.

The swift vote cheered the 30 residents who showed up to oppose the rezoning, but church leaders and 30 members who showed up in support of the move were undeterred.

“We would obviously have preferred to have their approval, but obviously we didn’t win the popularity contest,” said W. Woodson Galloway, the attorney representing the church. “But we will proceed with our request.”

Residents, too, pledged to turn out in force when the matter heads to the City Council. More than 500 people have signed petitions, urging a denial of the rezoning because of parking and traffic problems. Sixteen of the city’s homeowners associations have also formally voted to oppose the rezoning.

“We are really glad that they recognized the problems, but we know that we will be back,” said Patty Burns, president of the Round Hill Condominiums, which sit across from the proposed church site.

Bob Adams, vice president of public affairs for the Church of Scientology International, based in Los Angeles, said, “The church is eager to work with both the city and the residents to reach some sort of agreement.”

He cited various philanthropic and educational programs run by the church as why a move would benefit Sandy Springs. The church has been trying since last spring to get city approval to rezone the Georgian brick building so it can move from Dunwoody.

Read the full report.

Original Report:

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a report about Scientology’s attempts to take over a building in Sandy Springs, just north of Atlanta.  (You can visit the neighborhood on Google Maps. )   But it seems the neighbors aren’t rolling out the red carpet.

Tom Cruise himself could show up to make the case that the Church of the Scientology be allowed to convert an office building in Sandy Springs into its Georgia — and Deep South — headquarters, and members of 15 neighborhood associations would be unmoved.

Even Cruise, they say, wouldn’t have a place to park.

“That property just doesn’t have enough parking for a church,” said Mark Sampl, a leader in one of the city’s largest coalitions of homeowners, the Sandy Springs Council of Neighborhoods. “When their parking fills up, it suddenly is spilling out onto our streets and in our neighborhoods.”

The church has been trying since last spring to get city approval to rezone the Georgian brick building at Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive so it can move from Dunwoody.

The city has deferred twice as attorneys from Sandy Springs and Scientology hammered out conditions.

The delays have helped galvanize resident opposition. More than 500 have signed petitions urging an outright denial, saying even the existing parking isn’t enough and the church will increase traffic problems at the oddly aligned intersection.

The city’s planning commission will vote on the matter tonight after reviewing two sets of conditions.

The original set of conditions requires the church to keep the existing 111 parking spaces. A compromise allows it to convert 30 spaces to add a fourth-floor to the church.

The compromise also limits occupancy to 283 people, the maximum allowed under the city’s parking code, said attorney W. Woodson Galloway, who is representing the church.

“All we are asking for is that the Church of Scientology be treated the same way every other church is treated,” he said.

Residents have avoided criticizing the controversial church, saying they would oppose any church at the site because of the parking and traffic problems.

But they note that the nontraditional nature of the church — which calls for a gradual progression of study in classrooms — means that those rooms, not the relatively small sanctuary, should count when calculating parking needs.

“They are being disingenuous, because classrooms are the central part of Scientology,” said Sheila O’Shea, who lives in Round Hill Condominiums, near the site. “It’s like a Catholic church saying the confessional is the sanctuary and the pews are just classrooms.”

City officials have listened to such statements but have themselves trod carefully with the church, which has a successful history of suing to get its way.

“Any time we are dealing with a religious institution, any religious institution, we are extremely careful,” said Mayor Eva Galambos.

Galloway, in the initial application and letters to city staff, made it clear that a denial would be seen as a violation of Scientology’s state and federal rights.

He said the church wants to work out a deal but is adamant that it needs the full four floors. Anything less would be “discriminatory” based on the federal Religious Land Use and Institutional Persons Act, he said.

If that means a lawsuit, some residents are ready for the fight. Sandy Springs was carved out of Fulton County four years ago, they said, largely because people wanted more control over zoning and their own destiny.

Many residents view the Scientology battle as a clear example of quality of life being trampled in their neighborhoods. The city council has a mandate to use its legal and development offices to fight for residents, said Trisha Thompson, a three-term past president of the North Riverside Homeowners Association.

“I honest to goodness believe this is why we voted to become a city. We don’t want to waste our taxpayer money, but I think the residents expect the city’s resources to be used to protect neighborhoods,” Thompson said. “If protecting neighborhoods means legal action, well, so be it.”

Comments

9 Responses to “Scientology Loses Georgia Zoning Battle”
  1. stevie o says:

    ….?Isn’t this just one more case of the Co$camology using LRH’s BULLY-BOY tactics of sueing “not to win but HARRASS ” all other parties,irregardless of their point of view;beliefs..etc…Once you have any ,no matter how small or irrelevant standpoint that dosen’t “go along with or fit into their manner”…it repeatedly is approached as detraction and an infringment of their “rights” and offencevly attacked using the instructions of their “tech”…a blatent and abusive use of your constitutional rights ,so often documented already,can’t a case exist that at last will become juristprudence and expose their abusive methods??!!

  2. Scientologist says:

    Please, let us have the Church there, 2-3 parking spaces for us are more than enough anyway.
    Otherwise we’ll convert the compound into our NCC (Nazi Concentration Camp).

  3. Son of Xenu says:

    The Church of Scientology must also ensure a few thousand parking spaces on the compound for Anonymous while picketing there.
    Anonymous are the constituent and inseparable part of their activity now.

  4. Ultrapoet says:

    That is indeed the building in question, in case you were uncertain. It used to be a real estate office, and still has the words “Sales Office” over one of the entrances. If they do manage to set up in there, I suppose it will still be accurate.

    The zoning battle has been dragging out since March–it’s been deferred twice already. We’ll see how it shakes out this go-round.

  5. Scientologist says:

    And, our dear neighbours, if you support us, you will not have to go very far any more to picket our Church.

  6. Ultrapoet says:

    Planning Commission voted 3-2 to recommend denial of the rezoning. Goes before the Mayor and City Council next month.

  7. Son of Xenu says:

    Opening a field for the execution of residents of Sandy Springs, on the compound, would be of a greater benefit for them than that cult.

  8. D Wiggins says:

    Scientology has some good ideas and is helpful. The neighborhood is wrong since the church only has events that draw in lots of people occasionally. However I have concerns with the church’s integrity.

    I live in Fl now but was a member in GA for many years. I am a single unemployed mom. I have been attempting to close out an account with them for months. This account has quite a bit of money in it and was to be used to purchase services. However, they were unable to deliver those services for 5 years and I don’t live there so I want my money back.

    They’re stonewalling me and refusing to comply with their own policy as written by L Ron Hubbard or with their commitment to the IRS in 1993.

    I really need the money.

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