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Scientology’s latest filing in the Trout Run zoning fight: We bleed for all religions

TroutRun2

 
The saga at Trout Run continues as Scientology’s property arm produced another court filing and let loose with a whine of epic proportions.

We’ve been following developments in Frederick County, Maryland where Scientology tried a stealthy move to put one of its Narconon drug rehab facilities in a rustic location through an end-around of local zoning rules.

Scientology, through its property-buying front group, Social Betterment Properties International (SBPI), paid $4.85 million for a location known as Trout Run, a decaying fish camp that had stood in for Camp David on The West Wing. Although the parcel was not zoned for a drug rehab center, SBPI learned that if the property could be put on the county’s list of historic places, it could get a special exception as a group home.

So SBPI set about convincing the county’s Historic Preservation Commission that Trout Run fit several criteria for a historic place. It only then needed rubber-stamping by the county council, which had always agreed with the commission in the past. Through April that appeared to be what would happen, even though the council heard from concerned citizens who didn’t like Scientology’s caper. Then, on June 2, the council stunned everyone by voting 6-1 against putting the parcel on the historic places list, saying that Trout Run really wasn’t all that unique or historic.

Scientology then filed a petition for judicial review, saying that in fact the council had succumbed to discriminatory talk about Scientology.

The county answered that Trout Run’s suitability for the historic list was legitimately in doubt, and that the council was not a rubber stamp but could, in fact, make its own decision, regardless of what the Historic Preservation Commission had found. SBPI had simply failed to persuade the council of its case, the county’s attorney told the court.

In other words, the county says its decision was legally sound, and Scientology can go fish, as it were. And even though the county won’t go there, we can certainly tell you that Scientology’s drug rehab network is mired in controversy after numerous patient deaths and scores of lawsuits over its essentially deceptive nature. Narconon is bad news, and local governments are gradually getting wise to it, refusing zoning requests recently from Australia to Canada. But anyway, that’s not (officially) the issue in Maryland.

And now, Scientology gets a chance to reply, and it swings for the fences, as it always does. Hey, Scientology, you want some bread with this whine?

It should be noted that the decision of the Court has important significance not only to the Petitioner [SBPI] but to all religious organizations, particularly in this day and age in which we are all reminded to practice tolerance for different religions and not to stand in judgment of beliefs that may be different from others. If the Council’s decision is left to stand, the Court will be sending a message to the Council that it is acceptable to value and treat a group differently because of what it is alleged to believe or not believe, and adherents of different religions could be in jeopardy of future unequal treatment.

After nailing themselves to that cross, Scientology’s attorneys then go back to their original argument, that plenty of evidence was submitted to the county council that should have convinced it to name Trout Run historic, and only religious discrimination explains the June 6-1 vote against it.

Also, as a sideshow, Scientology filed numerous motions asking that submissions by local citizens be struck from the record. This is after the county had notified those people, telling them that it was proper for them to do so, since they had identified themselves as interested parties.

We sure are curious to see whether the court allows those reports, and whether it will back up the county council’s decision.

Here’s Scientology’s court filing. We look forward to your thoughts on it!

Trout Run: Petitioner's Reply

 
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BOOK NOTES
3D-Unbreakable

We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Our book tour is concluded for now. (But you can re-experience it through this nifty interactive map!) We’ll let you know about future appearances. Previous events: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29), Sydney (10/23), Melbourne (10/25), Adelaide (10/28), Perth (10/30)

 
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Posted by Tony Ortega on December 13, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield

 

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