Sandy Springs approves plan to expand Church of Scientology



SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. - A controversial church is moving forward with a planned expansion after getting approval from the Sandy Springs City Council.

The council approved the plans for the Church of Scientology to open at a building on Glenridge Drive at Roswell Road after a three-year battle.

The city denied part of the church's plan in 2009 over a lack of parking. The church sued and presented a new plan showing the required 130 spots.

"I'm extremely disappointed with the outcome," neighbor Jack Shaw told Channel 2's Amy Napier Viteri. "They allowed themselves to be threatened into making a decision that's not best for the citizens of Sandy Springs."

Supporters and critics packed council chambers wearing stickers representing their side. Supporters urged the council to approve the plan, saying the church had complied with all the city's requests.

Shaw said even with extra parking spaces at a neighboring post office, parking and traffic would be a problem.

"It's an extremely crowded, overburdened, dangerous intersection," Shaw said.

Attorney Woody Galloway represented the church and said because of how the church schedules events throughout the week, there is not one time where a large number of people gather.

"So you're not going to have the traffic problems. You're not going to have the parking problems," Galloway said.

He said the church has more parking than is required by city ordinance of other churches.

"We operate in a free country where everybody has a right to practice their own religion and that's what I believe and I think that's what ultimately prevailed today," Galloway said.

He said the church is planning major renovations to the interior of the building and will begin in the near future.