Author Topic: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia  (Read 101381 times)

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Re: RLUIPA Law Suit Filed by Church of Scientology of Georgia
« Reply #241 on: July 18, 2012, 17:10 »
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City Makes Way for Church of Scientology Expansion, Approves Zoning -
18 July 2012, 6:26 am

The Church of Scientology received the go-ahead from the City of Sandy Springs to convert an office building into a church space, Tuesday night.

In a 5-1 vote, City Council approved zoning modification conditions to expand the office building, located at Glenridge Drive and Roswell Road.

“Right now the city is at about $90,000 in damages,” said Laurel Henderson, legal counsel for the city."

It was a standing room crowd.

    The Lawsuit

The Church of Scientology sued the City of Sandy Springs in state and Federal District Court for discrimination, in 2009. Their request for modification included converting an underground parking deck into finished usable space. Although converting the building was approved, the city denied conversion of the parking deck saying 130 total parking spaces were required.

In February 2012, a Federal District Court judge sent the case to mediation. As a result, the church came up with a plan that meets the city requirements and allows the building to expand from 32,053 to 43,916 square feet.

During the previous City Council meeting, in June, members decided to delay a decision to grant expansion and settle the lawsuit, against legal counsel's advice.

    "If It's About Parking..."

“If that’s true [and it is about parking] then we’ve got the solution,” said Church of Scientology attorney, Woody Galloway. “If it’s about keeping the Church of Scientology out of Sandy Springs, then we can’t address that because the church has a right to be here.”

Parking spaces were at the heart of Church of Scientology’s discrimination suit against the city.

Sandy Springs attorney Laurel Henderson explained two past instances in which City Council members approved variances for under-parked facilities. In one case, the city initially required Beth Teffilah synagogue to have 105 parking spaces when it sought to build a school and other facilities, on the property, Henderson said. The synagogue only had 71 spaces, but a permit for expansion was granted after they presented a letter stating that a school nearby would allow use of its parking lot.

In similar fashion, City Council later approved variances with another church, Henderson said.

Along with adding parking spaces required by the city, the Church of Scientology has the use of parking spaces at a post office easement. The easement was also provided to the previous occupants of the Scientology building.

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