Win for Scien­tol­ogy

Southern Gazette (Belmont) - - FRONT PAGE - Aaron Cor­lett

THE Church of Scien­tol­ogy has cleared the fi­nal hur­dle to build a cen­tre in River­vale.

The $9.3 mil­lion project on the corner of Bel­mont Av­enue and Cleaver Ter­race was ap­proved in June, but last week had one of the con­di­tions re­moved by the Metro Cen­tral Joint De­vel­op­ment Assess­ment Panel (JDAP).

Plans for the cen­tre show mul­ti­ple class­rooms and of­fices, as well as a “pu­rifi­ca­tion room”.

Town plan­ners Rowe Group ap­proached the State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal on be­half of the church for a me­di­a­tion hear­ing in July to delete three con­di­tions.

Only one of the con­di­tions re­lat­ing to the elec­tri­cal sub­sta­tion was re­moved.

The ap­pli­cants ac­cepted con­di­tions about pro­vid­ing pub­lic art on the site to a min­i­mum value of 1 per cent of the es­ti­mated cost of the de­vel­op­ment.

Metro Cen­tral JDAP pre­sid­ing mem­ber Charles John­son said the de­vel­op­ment had the green light be­fore the re­vised ap­pli­ca­tion came to the panel.

“They de­cided to ap­peal some con­di­tions and it was dis­cussed at the con­fi­den­tial me­di­a­tion ses­sion,” he said.

“In the end, there was a mod­i­fi­ca­tion to the sub­sta­tion and they ac­cepted the is­sue about pub­lic art.

“We have treated the de­vel­op­ment as any other place of wor­ship.”

The cen­tre had pre­vi­ously been given the green light in 2015 but had a two-year ex­ten­sion ap­proved in June.

Scien­tol­ogy is a re­li­gion that was cre­ated by Amer­i­can author L. Ron Hub­bard and has high pro­file fol­low­ers such as Hol­ly­wood stars Tom Cruise and John Tra­volta.

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