KANSAS CITY, Kan. — People in one Wyandotte County neighborhood want new tenants at an office building on their streets, but they say the Church of Scientology isn’t welcome after the group sought community approval to move in.
Neighbors near Central Avenue and Grandview Boulevard complained to the Unified Government of Wyandotte County’s Planning Commission on Monday. The commission, in turn, voted down the church’s request for special permit to use the building as a dormitory by a 5-3 margin.
Maggie Kittinger, Church of Scientology executive director in Kansas City, told the commission the dormitory would house 50 people, all of whom were employees of her church. Kittinger’s church already owns a building in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.
“The way I read it, this is not a religion,” said Paul Soptick, leader of a community watchdog group called Wyandotte Countians Against Crime.
Soptick, a lifelong KCK resident, was in attendance at Monday’s commission meeting. He said Scientology’s unconventional beliefs make him and other neighbors uncomfortable.
Soptick also said local homeowners have their doubts about the number of people who’d be living there.
“You’ve got two apartment complexes next door, and that’s going to really jam up people corner of this block. And, with the type of people who want to come in, it makes it pretty jammed-up as far as occupancy goes,” Soptick said.
On Wednesday evening, a spokesperson for Kittinger’s church told FOX4 that Kansas City’s Church of Scientology would no longer pursue the building in question due to logistical concerns with the building. However, the spokesperson would not elaborate.
KCK’s Planning Commission was prepared to hear their pitch again at a meeting in October. The building remains for sale.
John Tiszka, another lifelong neighbor, said he disagrees with Scientology’s doctrine, and he argued their presence at the old Catholic Charities headquarters will bring too many cars, which will take up parking spaces that are already in high demand.
“It would make it worse than it is to get out of here to go to Central Avenue,” Tiszka said. “I usually come up here and make a right so I can avoid that diagonal, and that’s exactly where that building sits. It would be a mess.”