Narcanon Site Referred Back to County

The Signal, Santa Clarita California/July 25, 2006
By Kristopher Daams

A drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility with links to the Church of Scientology was referred back to county planning officials Tuesday to look into access and property issues for its proposed Bouquet Canyon site.

International drug rehabilitation organization Narconon won final approval of their proposed facility in mid-March, but "relatively new information" had the proposal referred back to the county's Regional Planning Commission, said Paul Novak, planning deputy to Fifth District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

The proposed Narconon facility was referred back after questions came up regarding access to the site - which sits on Bouquet Canyon Road about 15 miles outside Santa Clarita city limits - and portions of the 30-acre site that sit on a flood plain.

"Circumstances of the property have changed because of the storms of last winter," Novak said, pointing toward increased debris and earth that built up on and around the property.

Novak said the site's driveway runs over a creekbed, and added that the site "physically changed" after it was investigated by planning officials in August.

"The motion is just sending it back and saying 'Look at these issues,'" Novak said. "We will ask the planning commission to try and hear the case as soon as possible."

Antonovich had the approval by the county's Regional Planning Commission come under review by the supervisors after members of the public expressed concerns.

The 66-bed facility would have a staff of 11 people and a 10-year permit to operate.

Narconon uses research and developments derived from author L. Ron Hubbard in its rehabilitation treatments, according to the organization's Web site.

William Benitez, a former inmate in the Arizona State Prison system and heroin addict, founded Narconon.

No public testimony regarding the proposed rehabilitation facility was heard Tuesday, but the issue is expected to be heard again by planning officials, Novak said.

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