Church of Scientology of Ga., Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs, Ga., No. 1:10–CV–00082–AT.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. United States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Northern District of Georgia
Writing for the CourtAMY TOTENBERG
Citation843 F.Supp.2d 1328
PartiesCHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF GEORGIA, INC., Plaintiff, v. CITY OF SANDY SPRINGS, GEORGIA, a Municipal Corporation of the State of Georgia; City Council of the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia; Eva Galambos, in her Official Capacity as Mayor of the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia; John Paulson, Dianne Fries, William Coppedge Collins, Jr., Ashley Jenkins, Tiberio DeJulio and Karen Meinzen McEnerny, individually and in their official capacities as Members of the City Council of the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia, Defendants.
Decision Date10 February 2012
Docket NumberNo. 1:10–CV–00082–AT.

843 F.Supp.2d 1328

CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY OF GEORGIA, INC., Plaintiff,
v.
CITY OF SANDY SPRINGS, GEORGIA, a Municipal Corporation of the State of Georgia; City Council of the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia; Eva Galambos, in her Official Capacity as Mayor of the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia; John Paulson, Dianne Fries, William Coppedge Collins, Jr., Ashley Jenkins, Tiberio DeJulio and Karen Meinzen McEnerny, individually and in their official capacities as Members of the City Council of the City of Sandy Springs, Georgia, Defendants.

No. 1:10–CV–00082–AT.

United States District Court,
N.D. Georgia,
Atlanta Division.

Feb. 10, 2012.


[843 F.Supp.2d 1334]


Andrea Cantrell Jones, George Douglas Dillard, and Lauren MacLeod Hansford, Dillard & Galloway, for Plaintiffs.

[843 F.Supp.2d 1335]

Laurel E. Henderson and William Charles Hayes, Henderson & Hundley, P.C.; Wendell K. Willard, Law Office of Wendell K. Willard, for Defendant.


AMENDED ORDER

AMY TOTENBERG, District Judge.
+---------------------------------------------------+
                ¦I.¦Background ¦1336¦
                +---------------------------------------------------+
                
+----------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦A. ¦Church of Scientology ¦1337 ¦
                +--+---+---------------------------------------------+-----¦
                ¦ ¦B. ¦Subject Property and CSI's Space Requirements¦1339 ¦
                +--+---+---------------------------------------------+-----¦
                ¦ ¦C. ¦Rezoning Application ¦1341 ¦
                +--+---+---------------------------------------------+-----¦
                ¦ ¦D. ¦Zoning Requirements ¦1341 ¦
                +--+---+---------------------------------------------+-----¦
                ¦ ¦E. ¦Planning Staff & Commission Recommendations ¦1342 ¦
                +----------------------------------------------------------+
                
+----------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦1.¦Parking Studies ¦1343¦
                +--+---+--+-------------------------------------+----¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦2.¦Alternate Conditions ¦1344¦
                +----------------------------------------------------+
                
+-----------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦F.¦City Council Decision ¦1345¦
                +--+--+------------------------------------+----¦
                ¦ ¦G.¦Plaintiff's Complaint ¦1345¦
                +--+--+------------------------------------+----¦
                ¦ ¦H.¦Parties' Contentions ¦1345¦
                +-----------------------------------------------+
                
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦
                +----+----------------------------------------------------------------+-------¦
                ¦II. ¦Summary Judgment Standard ¦1346 ¦
                +----+----------------------------------------------------------------+-------¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦
                +----+----------------------------------------------------------------+-------¦
                ¦III.¦Ripeness ¦1347 ¦
                +----+----------------------------------------------------------------+-------¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦
                +----+----------------------------------------------------------------+-------¦
                ¦IV. ¦Analysis ¦1349 ¦
                +-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                
+-----------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦A.¦RLUIPA ¦1349¦
                +-----------------------------------------------+
                
+--------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦1.¦Section (a) Substantial Burden Provision¦1350 ¦
                +--------------------------------------------------------+
                
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦a. ¦Whether the City Made an Individualized Assessment ¦1350 ¦
                +---+----+---+---+----------------------------------------------------+------¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦b. ¦Whether the City's Decision Imposed a Substantial ¦1352 ¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦Burden on the Church's Religious Exercise ¦ ¦
                +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦2. ¦Section (b): Equal Terms, Nondiscrimination, Exclusions ¦1359 ¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦and Limits ¦ ¦
                +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                
+------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦a.¦RLUIPA's Equal Terms Provision ¦1359¦
                +--+---+--+--+------------------------------------+----¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦b.¦RLUIPA's Nondiscrimination Provision¦1360¦
                +------------------------------------------------------+
                
+----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦i. ¦Whether Plaintiff Identified Similarly Situated¦1362 ¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦Comparators ¦ ¦
                +---+----+---+---+---+-----------------------------------------------+-------¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ii.¦Whether the City Acted With a Discriminatory ¦1370 ¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦Purpose ¦ ¦
                +----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                
+------------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦c. ¦RLUIPA's Exclusions and Limits Provision¦1377 ¦
                +------------------------------------------------------------+
                
+-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦B. ¦Freedom of Speech ¦1377 ¦
                +---+----+-------------------------------------------------------------+------¦
                ¦ ¦C. ¦Federal Takings and State Inverse Condemnation Claims ¦1378 ¦
                +---+----+-------------------------------------------------------------+------¦
                ¦ ¦D. ¦Violation of Substantive Due Process Under Georgia ¦1379 ¦
                ¦ ¦ ¦Constitution ¦ ¦
                +---+----+-------------------------------------------------------------+------¦
                ¦ ¦E. ¦Mandamus ¦1380 ¦
                +-----------------------------------------------------------------------------+
                
+---------------------------------------------------+
                ¦ ¦ ¦ ¦
                +--+-------------------------------------------+----¦
                ¦V.¦Conclusion ¦1380¦
                +---------------------------------------------------+
                

This case arises from a zoning dispute over the Church of Scientology's desire to convert a 32,053 square foot office building into a roughly 44,000 square foot Church, referred to by Scientologists as an “Ideal Organization.” The City of Sandy Springs approved the use of the subject property for a church but limited the size of the building to the existing 32,053 square feet based on a lack of sufficient on-site parking. The Church of Scientology filed this suit pursuant to the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”), which prohibits governments from implementing land use regulations that impose a “substantial burden” on religious exercise or that discriminate against any religious assemblies or institutions on the basis of religious denomination. 42 U.S.C. § 2000cc(a) & (b)(2). However, as Plaintiff's counsel recognized before the City Council, “[t]he issue in this case has not been one of land use. It has been one of parking and a perceived issue as it relates to traffic.” (Tr. Dec. 15, 2009, City Council Hearing 4:18–20, Doc. 47–1.)

[843 F.Supp.2d 1336]

On September 30, 2011, the Court issued an Order on the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment. (Doc. 86.) The Court raised the question of whether Plaintiff's claims were ripe and directed the parties to submit additional briefing on the ripeness issue. This issue has now been fully briefed. (Docs. 87, 88.) Additionally, the parties have fully briefed the issues raised in Plaintiff's October 28, 2011, Motion for Reconsideration of the September 30, 2011, Order granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant on Plaintiff's claim for discrimination under RLUIPA. (Docs. 89, 90.) Having reviewed the parties' briefs on ripeness and the motion for reconsideration as well as the additional evidence submitted by Plaintiff regarding its original request for a parking variance,1 the Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion for Reconsideration, [Doc. 89], inasmuch as a question of fact exists as to whether the City discriminated against Plaintiff on the basis of its religious denomination in granting Plaintiff conditional approval of its rezoning application.2

Accordingly, the Court VACATES its Order issued on September 30, 2011, and ENTERS the following Order.

I. BACKGROUND

Keeping in mind that when deciding a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view the evidence and all factual

[843 F.Supp.2d 1337]

inferences in the light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, the Court provides the following statement of facts. See Optimum Techs., Inc. v. Henkel Consumer Adhesives, Inc., 496 F.3d 1231, 1241 (11th Cir.2007) (observing that, in connection with summary judgment, court must review all facts and inferences in light most favorable to non-moving party). This statement does not represent actual findings of fact. In re Celotex Corp., 487 F.3d 1320, 1328 (11th Cir.2007). Instead, the Court has provided the statement simply to place the Court's legal analysis in the context of this particular case or controversy.

A. Church of Scientology

Plaintiff, the Church of Scientology of Georgia, is a religious organization that currently operates a church at 4588 Winters Chapel Road, in Doraville, Georgia (“the Winters Chapel Location”). (Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts ¶¶ 1, 4, Doc. 37–4, (hereinafter “PSMF”); Defs.' Response to Pl.'s Statement of Material Facts ¶¶ 1, 4, Doc. 60, (hereinafter “Defs.' Resp. SMF”); Cartwright Aff. ¶¶ 3, 4, Doc. 38–1, Ex. A; Danos Aff. ¶ 4, Doc. 38–1, Ex. B.) When the Complaint in this matter was filed, the Church operated in leased space at 4480 North Shallowford Road, Dunwoody, Georgia (“the Dunwoody Location”). (PSMF ¶ 3; Defs.' Resp. SMF ¶ 3; Danos Aff. ¶ 3.)

Scientology is an applied religion based upon the research, writings and recorded lectures of L. Ron Hubbard, which collectively constitute the Scriptures of the religion. (PSMF ¶ 8; Defs.' Resp. SMF ¶ 8; Cartwright Aff. ¶¶ 6–8.) The Scriptures are the source of the beliefs, practices, rituals, and policies of the religion. ( Id.) The Church serves a state-wide congregation of 600 members, 100 of whom are currently active. It has a staff of 20 volunteer and paid employees. (Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 2, Doc. 43–2, (hereinafter “DSMF”); Pl.'s Response to Defs.' Statement of Material Facts ¶ 2, Doc. 67, (hereinafter “Pl.'s Resp. DSMF”); Compl. ¶ 17.) Plaintiff is the only...

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  • Hunt Valley Baptist Church, Inc. v. Balt. Cnty., Civil Action No. ELH-17-804
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • October 24, 2017
    ...of an equal protection analysis. Chabad, 768 F.3d at 198; Church of Scientology of Georgia, Inc. v. Cty. of Sandy Springs, Ga, 843 F. Supp. 2d 1328, 1360 (N.D. Ga. 2012) (collecting cases); cf. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 540 (1993) (concerning Fr......
  • Hunt Valley Baptist Church, Inc. v. Balt. Cnty., Civil Action No. ELH-17-804
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • October 17, 2017
    ...of an equal protection analysis. Chabad, 768 F.3d at 198; Church of Scientology of Georgia, Inc. v. Cty. of Sandy Springs, Ga., 843 F. Supp. 2d 1328, 1360 (N.D. Ga. 2012) (collecting cases); cf. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 540 (1993) (concerning F......
  • Congregation Rabbinical Coll. of Tartikov, Inc. v. Vill. of Pomona, No. 07–CV–6304 (KMK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 7, 2017
    ...1308 ; accord Vision Church , 468 F.3d at 1003 (following same analysis); Church of Scientology of Ga., Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs , 843 F.Supp.2d 1328, 1361 (N.D. Ga. 2012) (same); Family Life Church v. City of Elgin , 561 F.Supp.2d 978, 989 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (same). Plaintiffs assert th......
  • Congregation Rabbinical Coll. of Tartikov, Inc. v. Vill. of Pomona, Case No. 07–CV–6304 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 4, 2013
    ...Long Grove, 468 F.3d 975, 1003 (7th Cir.2006) (following same analysis); Church of Scientology of Ga., Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs, 843 F.Supp.2d 1328, 1361 (N.D.Ga.2012) (same); Covenant Christian Ministries, Inc. v. City of Marietta, No. 06–CV–1994, 2008 WL 8866408, at *13 (N.D.Ga. Mar.......
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39 cases
  • Hunt Valley Baptist Church, Inc. v. Balt. Cnty., Civil Action No. ELH-17-804
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • October 24, 2017
    ...of an equal protection analysis. Chabad, 768 F.3d at 198; Church of Scientology of Georgia, Inc. v. Cty. of Sandy Springs, Ga, 843 F. Supp. 2d 1328, 1360 (N.D. Ga. 2012) (collecting cases); cf. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 540 (1993) (concerning Fr......
  • Hunt Valley Baptist Church, Inc. v. Balt. Cnty., Civil Action No. ELH-17-804
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Maryland)
    • October 17, 2017
    ...of an equal protection analysis. Chabad, 768 F.3d at 198; Church of Scientology of Georgia, Inc. v. Cty. of Sandy Springs, Ga., 843 F. Supp. 2d 1328, 1360 (N.D. Ga. 2012) (collecting cases); cf. Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 540 (1993) (concerning F......
  • Congregation Rabbinical Coll. of Tartikov, Inc. v. Vill. of Pomona, No. 07–CV–6304 (KMK)
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • December 7, 2017
    ...1308 ; accord Vision Church , 468 F.3d at 1003 (following same analysis); Church of Scientology of Ga., Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs , 843 F.Supp.2d 1328, 1361 (N.D. Ga. 2012) (same); Family Life Church v. City of Elgin , 561 F.Supp.2d 978, 989 (N.D. Ill. 2008) (same). Plaintiffs assert th......
  • Congregation Rabbinical Coll. of Tartikov, Inc. v. Vill. of Pomona, Case No. 07–CV–6304 (KMK).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. Southern District of New York
    • January 4, 2013
    ...Long Grove, 468 F.3d 975, 1003 (7th Cir.2006) (following same analysis); Church of Scientology of Ga., Inc. v. City of Sandy Springs, 843 F.Supp.2d 1328, 1361 (N.D.Ga.2012) (same); Covenant Christian Ministries, Inc. v. City of Marietta, No. 06–CV–1994, 2008 WL 8866408, at *13 (N.D.Ga. Mar.......
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