Judge backs city in first round of church discrimination suit

No ruling yet on discrimination claim

Atlanta Journal-Constitution/October 5, 2011

A federal judge has upheld a Sandy Springs decision to limit the size of a church based on its on-site parking.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ruled last week that the city properly administered its parking ordinance in December when it denied a request by the Church of Scientology to expand a building at Roswell Road and Glenridge Drive. The city granted use of the building as a church but denied a request to add a fourth floor by enclosing a basement parking garage, saying there wasn't enough available parking.

Attorneys for the church said the additional space was needed because Scientology practice focuses more on individual classroom study than traditional congregational-style churches.

The judge will now consider the church's assertion that its free exercise rights were violated.

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