By Amy Wenk

amywenk@reporternewspapers.net

In its fourth review of the application, the Sandy Springs Planning Commission Nov. 19 gave the Church of Scientology approval to relocate its Georgia headquarters to Sandy Springs.

The commission’s recommendation will be considered by City Council for the final vote Dec. 15.

But residents aren’t sure the case will see resolution.

“It was the same old, same old,” said Round Hill Condominium resident Patty Burns after the meeting.

The Planning Commission approved the church’s request to rezone its 32,000-square-foot building at 5395 Roswell Road to allow for religious services, but vetoed the renovation the Scientologists are seeking. Since the application was introduced, the church has asked to enclose the basement-level parking garage for more than 10,000 extra square feet but 30 fewer parking spaces.

The city has refuted the request on the basis it would leave inadequate parking onsite.

Parking and traffic are major concerns of the at least 700 residents who have signed petitions opposing the rezoning.

“We’re certainly pleased [the Planning Commission] recommended approval, but we’re disappointed in the square footage they recommended approval for,” said the church’s attorney Woody Galloway of Dillard & Galloway. “We will continue to ask for 43,916 square feet because that is what the Church of Scientology needs in order to practice their religion.”

Galloway, who brought along a court reporter the past two meetings, said if City Council won’t grant that request, “we will have to pursue our options.”

The zoning process has been delayed several times due to revisions submitted by the church.

“We’re aging in the process,” said Jane Kelley, zoning chair for the High Point Civic Association that represents 500 homeowners. “What was approved tonight was not what the applicant applied for.”

For coverage on the Church of Scientology, visit www.reporternewspapers.net.