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Scientology’s Narconon drug rehab expansion plans DENIED in Maryland and Michigan

Frederick County, Maryland officials tell the Underground Bunker that a court settlement has ended the efforts by a Scientology subsidiary to get a zoning change so that it could build a 16-bed Narconon drug rehab center at the Trout Run land parcel, a contentious battle that has been going on for four years. Researcher Mary McConnell cautions us, however, that Scientology may still be able to open a smaller, boutique rehab at the location.

In Michigan, meanwhile, Anita Senkowski reports that a planning board voted 4-0 yesterday to deny a couple who wanted to open a Narconon rehab in their large home.

Scientology has run into similar opposition to its Narconon expansion plans in Australia and Ireland after years of negative press and several patient deaths raised the profile of Scientology’s rehabs and its controversial way of treating patients. It’s had more success opening new drug rehabs in places like Mexico and Turkey.

In Maryland, Scientology subsidiary Social Betterment Properties International (SBPI) spent $4.85 million in 2013 for a 40-acre wooded parcel that contained a fishing camp known as Trout Run. The camp had been used as a stand-in for Camp David in scenes filmed for The West Wing, and had been used at one time by President Herbert Hoover. It certainly seemed “historic,” and SBPI applied to have it put on the county’s list of official historic locations. If the county did so, however, Scientology would have been able to get around zoning limitations and could have gone ahead with its plans to turn the fishing camp into a 16-bed drug rehab.


In 2015, the county council voted 6-1 against making the historic designation, thereby denying Scientology the zoning variance it wanted. SBPI then sued the county.

The case was continued several times, but recently a sharp-eyed observer at Facebook noticed that SBPI had dismissed its own lawsuit with prejudice, an indication that a settlement had finally been reached. We asked for information with the Frederick County attorney and got this reply from the office of the County Executive…

The settlement only allows the property owner to do what it has been allowed or permitted to do all along, and nothing more. The owner is not allowed to operate a 16-bed large group home, as originally requested. The property does not get the historic designation they sought. No special exception for its zoning has been granted. The Trout Run property’s longstanding zoning is resource conservation, which allows residential usage and small group homes limited to 8 individuals. Under federal anti-discrimination laws, small group homes must be allowed in any zone that allows residential uses. For some background, SBPI brought the suit against Frederick County because their application for a historic designation was denied by the County Council. That denial still stands. The settlement was agreed to by both the County Executive and the County Council.

We turned to researcher Mary McConnell, who is such an expert on Narconon matters, to tell us what she thinks this means.

“It doesn’t rule out SBPI creating a high-end 8-bed small group home used for substance abuse ‘education’ or ‘Vocational rehabilitation’ as Narconon sometimes twists the definition of what they are really doing. Or creating a high end sober living environment. However, they would still need to be licensed by the state in most of these instances,” she told us.

So after spending nearly $5 million for the property and plenty of money since then fighting the county, SBPI and Scientology may end up with a tiny 8-bed boutique Narconon, like the high-end 6-bed facility they opened in Ojai, California in the former home of actor Larry Hagman.

Is that worth it to Scientology after all the money it’s spent? We’re going to predict that they go ahead and build the tiny Narconon, although the county tells us SBPI has filed no new plans for the property.

Meanwhile, in Michigan, Rod Keller had told us about an unusual couple who were trying to turn their private home into a Narconon facility. But Anita Senkowski, who has covered Narconon-related news in that area, tells us she attended a township zoning board meeting yesterday, and watched the family give testimony about its plans.

She says that Greg and Lori Hetzer told their story about how their son had been saved from his drug addiction at a Narconon, and so they had bought a large group home and wanted to open their own Narconon franchise. But the board voted it down, 4-0.

So that’s two local governing bodies rejecting the expansion plans of Scientology’s quack drug rehab network.

Scientology leader David Miscavige will not be happy.


HowdyCon 2019 in Los Angeles

This year’s HowdyCon is in Los Angeles. People tend to come in starting on Thursday, and that evening we will have a casual get-together at a watering hole. We have something in mind, but for now we’re not giving out information about it.

Friday night we will be having an event in a theater (like we did on Saturday night last year in Chicago). There will not be a charge to attend this event, but if you want to attend, you need to RSVP with your proprietor at tonyo94 AT gmail.

On Saturday, we are joining forces with Janis Gillham Grady, who is having a reunion in honor of the late Bill Franks. Originally, we thought this event might take place in Riverside, but instead it’s in the Los Angeles area. If you wish to attend the reunion, you will need to RSVP with Janis (janisgrady AT gmail), and there will be a small contribution she’s asking for in order to help cover her costs.

HOTEL: Janis tells us she’s worked out a deal with Hampton Inn and Suites, at 7501 North Glenoaks Blvd, Burbank, (818) 768-1106. We have a $159 nightly rate for June 19 to 22.



Scientology’s celebrities, ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and more!

[Jenna Elfman, Giovanni Ribisi, and Greta Van Susteren]

We’ve been building landing pages about David Miscavige’s favorite playthings, including celebrities and ‘Ideal Orgs,’ and we’re hoping you’ll join in and help us gather as much information as we can about them. Head on over and help us with links and photos and comments.

Scientology’s celebrities, from A to Z! Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

Scientology’s ‘Ideal Orgs,’ from one end of the planet to the other! Help us build up pages about each these worldwide locations!

Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society!

Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in our weekly series. How many have you read?



[ONE year ago] Scientology TV was launched with a massive ad campaign — is it working?
[TWO years ago] Lawrence Wright goes to Nazareth; or, how Reza Aslan drove us into the arms of L. Ron Hubbard
[THREE years ago] Scientology at Comic Con: An attempt at a minor intervention, as told by Phil Jones
[FOUR years ago] On the eve of ‘Going Clear’, Leah Remini says she’s grateful to the people behind it
[FIVE years ago] Ted Babbitt’s gambit: Recasting the Garcia federal fraud lawsuit against Scientology
[SIX years ago] In Dianetics, the Uterus is a Frightening Place — ALSO: Nation of Islam Boosting Involvement?


Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley has not seen his daughter Stephanie in 5,400 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 1,529 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,033 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 1,513 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 576 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 464 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 3,771 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 1,639 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 2,413 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 3,187 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 2,533 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,099 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,019 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 3,186 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 2,767 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,027 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,067 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 1,779 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 1,305 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 5,394 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 2,534 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 2,854 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 7,710 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 2,829 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 1,185 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 5,487 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 1,593 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 1,995 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 1,867 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 1,450 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 1,945 days.
Mary Jane Sterne has not seen her daughter Samantha in 2,199 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 13,308 days.


Posted by Tony Ortega on March 28, 2019 at 09:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2018 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2018), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele


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