By Amy Wenk
A roller-coaster of a rezoning case could reach the end of its tracks this month.
Sandy Springs City Council should decide Oct. 20 whether the Church of Scientology can relocate to the city. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 7840 Roswell Road, building 500.
The Dunwoody-based church seeks to rezone its property at 5395 Roswell Road to allow for religious services. Currently the former real estate office at the corner of Glenridge Drive only is permitted office use.
The Scientologists purchased the site in 2005 and requested to enclose the basement of the four-level structure. That renovation would increase the size from approximately 32,000 to 46,000 square feet.
But the process to get the application approved has been long and arduous. The case went to the Planning Commission three times, and at the last meeting Sept. 17, the board voted to deny the application after approving the request back in July (although subject to modifications). The commission felt the site had too little parking for the increased building size, and when they heard the congregation wanted no less than 40,000 square feet, they turned down the application.
Many Sandy Springs residents were overjoyed with the commission’s denial. Opposition to the church’s relocation has been fierce, rallying more than 500 signatures on petitions. Each meeting since March, citizens have lined up at the podium to express concerns like inadequate parking and increased traffic.
Scientologists came Sept. 17 in record numbers to defend their case. The congregation has said the city misunderstands how it uses space in its religion. Some feel they are being treated differently since the city is requiring more parking spaces than it would at other churches, saying the Church of Scientology operates more like a community college.
Read more about the Church of Scientology at www.reporternewspapers.net.