Time has come to deny Scientology application

To the editor,

Your Oct. 30 edition [“Frustration mounts with decision delay” on page 1] refers to “mounting frustration” about the further delay in deciding the outcome of the application by the Church of Scientology. Such frustration is hardly surprising. Council members have expressed this frustration and so have the 16 civic and neighborhood associations who are objecting to the rezoning.

Three times the application has been deferred because the Church has produced “new material” to support its case. On the last two occasions this information has only become available to the citizens of Sandy Springs at the last minute, although negotiations had already been taking place on it for some time between the applicant and city staff.

In September, the Planning Commission re-considered “new material” and voted to deny the “alternate conditions” proposed by the applicant. They then went on to recommend denial of the whole application.

The latest “new material” which led to the deferral on Oct. 20 is another attempt by the applicant to meet criticism of the severe lack of parking for the proposed use.

By reconfiguring and restriping the surface parking, an increase in parking spaces could be achieved, but at the expense of the normal requirements for creating parking islands and planting shade trees in these islands.

Some existing trees would also be removed. The plan also includes using existing landscaped areas in order to achieve 19 parking spaces on the Roswell Road frontage. Twelve of these are in the setback.

The neighborhood objectors say that there is no reason to waive these requirements, but even if they were waived, there would still be a serious lack of parking.

Why should the applicants who purchased the property with open eyes be excused the normal environmental requirements in their efforts to create additional parking spaces?

The time has come for the council to deny this application for an unsuitable use of this site.

Carol S. Thorup, Sandy Springs

Fulton County split-up would be devastating

To the editor,

In the coming session of the State Legislature, Rep. Mark Burkhalter will once again introduce a resolution to split-up Fulton County by forming Milton County in North Fulton. The Fulton County Taxpayers Foundation opposes such a resolution for the following reasons:

1. The division of Fulton County would devastate the remaining Fulton County by reducing its revenues by $193 million, the sum now paid in taxes to Fulton County by property owners in North Fulton.

2. 64.9 percent of the Fulton County General Fund is either fixed-in cost or mandated by the State of Georgia, i.e., the Courts and Courts–Related services, $199.2 million; the contribution to Grady Hospital, $92 million; the Health and Human Services, $71.1 million; Fulton County Sheriff, $93.4 million; etc. In the event of a division, taxes in the remaining Fulton County could escalate as much as 30 to 40 percent to make up for the shortfall.

3. The resolution calls for a vote by only the residents of North Fulton, violating the Federal Voting Act of 1965. Furthermore, Article 9, Section 1, Paragraph 11C of the Georgia Constitution requires that all citizens in a county vote on the decision to divide a county. The resolution attempts to remove this constitutional protection and thus disenfranchises all citizens living south of the proposed Milton County border.

4. During the last five years, Fulton County has vastly improved its services, i.e., under Chief Judge Doris Downs, the Superior Courts are far more economical and efficient; under John Szabo, the Fulton County Libraries are ranked “one of the best;” under Burt Manning, the Board of Assessors is highly respected; under Dr. Stephen Kitkowsky, the Fulton County Health Department is ranked “among the best in United States.”

If the City of Atlanta is “the hub” of the region, the City of Atlanta would be adversely impacted with an exodus of businesses and residents.

John S. Sherman, president

Fulton County Taxpayers’ Foundation