Antonovich: Rethink Scientology rehab center

Antonovich: Rethink Scientology rehab center

This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press on Tuesday, March 28, 2006.

Valley Press Staff Writer

Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich wants the Board of Supervisors to reconsider plans approved for a Scientology-based drug rehab facility in Leona Valley.

In a motion expected to be approved at today's board meeting, Antonovich is requesting the board conduct a public hearing for Narconon Southern California's proposal to offer treatment to up to 66 clients at a time in Bouquet Canyon.

The proposal was OK'd by the Los Angeles County Regional Planning Commission on March 15, but the board could overturn the approval, add new conditions or allow the plan to go forward as approved.

On the morning of the Planning Commission hearing, the Leona Valley Town Council sent a letter indicating that the vast majority of respondents to a community poll opposed the plan. The item was on the commission's consent calendar, as it already had been approved in January.

"Right up to the time the matter was brought up as a consent item with the planning commission, there was still a tremendous amount of very emotional correspondence as to the concerns and possible effects" of the rehab facility, said Norm Hickling, an Antonovich aide. Antonovich's 5th District includes the Antelope Valley.

"Some letters came in support," Hickling added. "Because there was such diversity of viewpoints, Supervisor Antonovich felt it necessary and prudent to call it up."

The Leona Valley Town Council letter said two informal surveys of the community showed 55 of 65 respondents did not support Narconon's plans, compared to eight who expressed support and two who had no opinion.

By calling the matter up for a review by the Board of Supervisors, Antonovich is eliminating the need for project opponents to pay for a formal appeal.

"I know there are some folks that were planning to go down and appeal it, and this will save them the 750 bucks," said Mike Waters, president of the Leona Valley Town Council. "What I got out of all this is, our polls indicate that the people polled were predominantly against it, but on the other hand, probably 80% or 90% didn't bother voting on it."

Several months may pass before the issue comes up for a public hearing, Antonovich aides said.

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