Members of the Sandy Springs Church of Scientology must wait another month before they may get city permission to expand their building. Before a crowd of nearly 100 people, the City Council voted 4-2 Tuesday evening to delay a vote over whether the church can add 12,000 square feet to its 32,053-square-foot building at Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive.
Bob Adams, vice president of the Church of Scientology, said after the meeting that he was optimistic about the eventual outcome. Opponents of the expansion were not.
The City Council "is between a rock and a hard place," said Sandy Springs resident Denis Brown.
Last year, the city rejected the proposed expansion of the church based on its on-site parking, and the church sued it. A federal judge upheld the city's decision, but church leaders say they have corrected the deficiency by providing 130 parking spaces and full access for emergency vehicles at a cost of close to $300,000.
"We have met every single requirement that you all have asked us to do, and there is no reasonable basis to deny this request," said church attorney William Galloway. Laurel Henderson, an attorney representing the city, said it has little choice now but to grant the expansion.
Church members who spoke at the hearing said they looked forward to building a strong presence in the community. "I have seen as others have told you the benefits in the community of having the Church of Scientology here," said resident Nancy Davis.
But opponents of the expansion said they were not given enough notice before Tuesday's meeting to mount a proper counter-argument to the church's request. Most said expansion at the church would add to congestion along one of the city's busiest routes. "We feel that there has been a near total disregard for the interests of local residents, no effort to put them in the picture," said Robin Beechey, who represents the Willow Glen Condominium Association.
Beechey said the city posted one notice in a local newspaper May 30 that the matter would be heard at Tuesday's meeting. But he said that newspaper is not distributed to city residents inside the Perimeter. Henderson said the city had fulfilled its obligation to publicize the meeting.
Councilman Chip Collins moved to delay the vote, arguing he would rather run the risk of further court action than lose the trust of city residents. He said one month's delay should not present a hardship for anyone.
Council members Dianne Fries and John Paulson voted against the delay, saying the city should not ignore the warnings of its own attorney. "We're here to protect the city," Fries said.http://www.ajc.com/news/north-fulton/sa ... 61316.html
Let's not forget there remains a pending civil lawsuit filed by cult with a million dollar litigation budget against a small city which probably can't afford the drain in funds fighting the lawsuit..http://dockets.justia.com/docket/georgi ... 82/164119/