The Frederick County Council voted Tuesday to postpone a decision on a historic designation for the Scientology-affiliated drug treatment center planned for Thurmont.

Leaders of the Narconon program, which uses rehabilitation methods developed by the Church of Scientology’s founder, L. Ron Hubbard, want to open a “residential drug rehabilitation center” at a 40-acre camp named Trout Run, off Catoctin Hollow Road.

Social Betterment Properties is the current owner of Trout Run and the real estate arm of the church. The property owner and Narconon requested that Trout Run be added to the county’s historic registry — a decision the County Council voted to postpone until April 21 — to allow more time for consideration.

The Board of Zoning Appeals previously voted to allow the property owner to make changes to the site, which would not otherwise be permitted under current zoning restrictions, if the owner acquired a historic preservation designation from the County Council.

“You are the last stop for these folks in terms of certifications and designations,” county planner Denis Superczynski told the council Tuesday.

Six members of the public weighed in on the planned drug rehabilitation center during the public hearing portion of the council meeting.

Washington County resident Katherine McBride, a former Scientologist, believed the property owner and Narconon were going “through the back end” to get the appropriate licensing for the rehabilitation center.

“They’re not very honest,” Frederick resident Lesli Summers-Stay said.

Most of the speakers expressed concern about what they’d heard about the religion, which Linowes and Blocher attorney Bruce Dean addressed. Dean has been representing the property owner through their presentations and applications to the county.

“There’s been some discussion about Scientology and how it’s bad,” Dean said. Though others may judge Scientologists’ beliefs or practices, he said, “I don’t know. I’m a land-use attorney.”

Narconon Eastern U.S. Executive Director Yvonne Rodgers, who is a Scientologist, also attended the meeting. She said they would go through the proper channels to get the center up and running.

“We will be fully licensed by the state of Maryland; there’s no way for us to operate otherwise,” she said.

Former County Commissioner Kai Hagen heard the organization was trying to get the historic designation in order to receive tax credits, but he didn’t believe that was plausible.

“They’ve got more money than God, so to speak,” Hagen said.

Hagen told the council they should do their homework on Scientology and Narconon.

“You owe it to the growing number of constituents who didn’t know about this a few months ago,” he said.

Councilman Jerry Donald, who teaches history at Middletown High School, said he didn’t think the Trout Run site should receive the designation because it isn’t historic.

“I’m failing to see that, other than somebody fished there,” he said.

According to county staff, an aide to President Herbert Hoover bought the property in 1929. The aide stocked the stream with trout and built a cabin in preparation for the commander in chief’s visits.

The design of Trout Run was “designed to do one thing ... make you feel one with nature, for a weekend, for a week, whatever it may be,” Superczynski said.

Hoover stayed at Trout Run a handful of times, and the aide eventually sold the property. But other members of the Washington elite, including President Dwight D. Eisenhower, continued to visit the retreat decades after.

Hagen has known about the property nearly his whole life and said he was happy to hear the state was going to preserve it years ago. Though the plan fell through, he said this center was not the right way to do it.

Ann Lundahl, who lives south of Thurmont, hasn’t heard much about Narconon but is wary of its presence in the county.

“I’m concerned about the history of the organization that’s behind it,” she said.

Rodgers said they chose the Thurmont location so that it would be central for Maryland and nearby states. This would be Narconon’s first outpost in Maryland.

“The facility where we want to open the Narconon center is away from the tumult of any big city — yet accessible to the whole region,” she said in an email. “It’s quiet, private, and peaceful.”

Rodgers said the Narconon center is not intended to be a recruiting tool for the Church of Scientology and that Narconon is “a non-religious program.”

County Council member Kirby Delauter said he didn’t want the council’s discussion to get hung up on the practices or beliefs of the organization making the historic designation request.

“I don’t care what kind of drapes you have, what kind of flooring you have,” he said.

Delauter and Donald were in the minority. Council members Tony Chmelik, M.C. Keegan-Ayer, Jessica Fitzwater and council President Bud Otis voted to table the issue. Councilman Billy Shreve was absent.

Fitzwater asked members of the public to send their comments to the council for their consideration.

Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan.

(27) comments

lulu102460

And I don't find pixie-dust comment funny at all being a parent of a heroin addict. Don't make light of a serious situation. Thank you

lulu102460

Wake up people all we have is Mountain Manor. We have a freaking heroin epidemic here in this region. U don't think we need something. And as for location people don't want a rehab in their back yard, their to good for that at least till their kids experiment. It's a perfect location.

pixie-dust

Hostility could be reduced If the Scientologists would permit other groups to use the premises for their rituals. For example, Catholics could use do exorcisms, Protestants could do faith healings and snake handling, Jehovah's Witnesses could refuse blood transfusions, etc.

barbaradean8

only thing historic about it is the billions of no trespassing signs

pfitzgerald

Great photo! I guess they'll have to take down all of the "no fishing" signs to remain "historically" accurate.

josephdavis

So many ask why they seek historic status, it's right in the article:

"The Board of Zoning Appeals previously voted to allow the property owner to make changes to the site, which would not otherwise be permitted under current zoning restrictions, if the owner acquired a historic preservation designation from the County Council."

They need the permit if they want to make changes to the site.

hayduke2

Just a ploy to get around requirements. This should be a NO....

bukweet

do you homework, fellow residents of frederick county! if you don't already know about the secretive & manipulative tactics employed by the tax-exempt so called "church" of Scientology, there's plenty of literature out on the web to read. Also:

HBO's smashing documentary GOING CLEAR about the history of Scientology, is now available for FREE on Comcast cable thru april 12th, i think , if you're not a subscriber to HBO - but you also subscribe to Xfinity services on Comcast, just search on HBO, then Documentaries, and you'll see it listed.

here are some excerpts from the Falls Church News-Press about HBO's Going Clear, published April 1, 2015:
" To call the two-hour documentary “troubling” or “unnerving” is to say not nearly enough. Based on the best selling book by the New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright and the relentless research and blogging by the Raw Story’s Tony Ortega, it is filled with former Scientologists describing life in the cult, revealing patterns of astonishing abuse and brutality toward its followers, veritable blackmail against some of its celebrity adherents (like John Travolta), relentless harassment of its defectors turned detractors, and its brazen assault on the IRS that led in the 1990s to its tax exempt status.

For one, Scientology is officially shunned in other parts of the world, including in Germany and France. But in the U.S., under the protection of its IRS-granted tax exempt status, it continues to operate with impunity. (Don’t forget, being tax exempt means that the nation’s taxpayers are subsiding this operation). But now, with the rise of the Internet, the inner horrors of the group have begun coming out as Ortega’s blog became a lightning rod for growing legions of brave Scientology defectors to tell the true story.

It reminds me of the Jim Jones cult of Jonestown, when in November 1978 a courageous U.S. Rep. Leo Ryan led a fact-finding mission to its compound in Guyana, and was met with a complete coverup of the abuses going on there. "

http://fcnp.com/2015/04/01/hbo-documentary-exposes-scientology/

MCEDDE21

I'm with Jerry Donald on this. How is this site "historic"? And, why would a rehab outfit want such a designation? Is this a marketing gimmick, a tax dodge, what?

And to reiterate BlueDawn's comment: What kind of a lawyer doesn't know the back story of his client, including what the client's ultimate objectives are? Does the Council, in this case, have to pry into every little detail; take full depositions from every party and prepare to sue in the event of a non-disclosure or misrepresentation?

Mr. Dean, you don't inspire much confidence in us.

bukweet

ABSOLUTELY! Jerry Donald, please see my comment above. everyone, including Frederick county government staff, and the planning and zoning appeals board, as well as our elected representatives in the county council, should see HBO's documentary GOING CLEAR about Scientology. Narcanon is a scam!

it's offered for free on Comcast cable through sunday, if you don't already subscribe to HBO on comcast. please view it - it will change your mind if you're in favor of letting the Scientology voles in through the back door of Thurmont.

BlueDawn666

OMG---“There’s been some discussion about Scientology and how it’s bad,” Dean said. Though others may judge Scientologists’ beliefs or practices, he said, “I don’t know. I’m a land-use attorney.”----so this is kinda like the Twinkie defense right?

Just how qualified as an attorney are you to not know who you are representing and their back story? At least be honest in your response Mr. Dean, say something like I follow the money and was paid a good sum to represent them, don't care who they are, I follow the money.

To the County Council thank you for tabling the issue. Very wise decision. Let's not make the same mistake the Aldermen made with that 3rd Walmart. Glad to see you are doing your research and are listening to the people, something the Aldermen failed to do. [wink][wink]..then again Walmart also has more money than god.

MCEDDE21

[thumbup]

bukweet

[thumbup]

kaihagen

Very glad the council did not approve the change last night.

But also a little frustrated that the article misquoted me.

The state DID successfully purchase and protect most of the once much larger property recently. Scientology purchased only the relatively smaller area...with the buildings, along the road.

dcg326

jan , this is needed by any organization,do it Blaine would stand up now Jan[thumbup]

FrederickVeteran

Is the county open for business or not?

kaihagen

And how would this be related to whether or not the county is "open for business?"

HappyMedium

Will this not bring a new "business" to the county. Actually I think it will bring a new church to the county that won't pay property taxes.

newspostreader

I'm not sure that I understand this article. I don't think it is saying that they can't do business here. I think it is saying they just want to have it designated as historical. Either way, my guess is they can do business. Maybe Kai can explain what the true issue is?

barbaradean8

when blaine was in charge it was open for CORRUPTION!

DickD

I had heard of the Church of Scientology, but was not sure what it is, so I looked it up on Wikipedia and this is what it says; "The church is often characterized as a cult, and it has faced harsh scrutiny for many of its practices, which, critics contend, include brainwashing and routinely defrauding its members, as well as attacking its critics and perceived enemies with psychological abuse, character assassination, and costly lawsuits. In response, Scientologists have argued that theirs is a genuine religious movement that has been misrepresented, maligned, and persecuted. The Church of Scientology has consistently used litigation against its critics, and its aggressiveness in pursuing its foes has been condemned as harassment. Further controversy has focused on Scientology's belief that souls ("thetans") reincarnate and have lived on other planets before living on Earth and that some of the related teachings are not revealed to practitioners until they have paid thousands of dollars to the Church of Scientology. Another controversial belief held by Scientologists is that the practice of psychiatry is destructive and abusive and must be abolished."

cctjr64

Councilman Billy Shreve was absent. He probably would not have voted anyhow.

mllposey

Perhaps he was at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church - a Tuesday meeting, small worship group perhaps... ever hear of it?
http://www.goodshepherdmd.org/history/

HappyMedium

Did you see him there.

Why would he be there instead of meeting the requirements of a paid position.

mllposey

My post went over your head but sure hit home with cctjr64 .... That is all.

HappyMedium

So it was a personal jab that only you and he would understand.

But still doesn't explain why Shreve wouldn't show up for a job he is being paid to do.

FrederickFan

Just wait.

Welcome to the discussion.

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