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Church battles Marietta over parking spaces

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Roswell Street Baptist Church is in a battle with the city of Marietta over a streetscaping project. Roswell Street Baptist Church is in a battle with the city of Marietta over a streetscaping project.
MARIETTA, Ga. -

A church is in a battle with the city of Marietta over a streetscaping project that would take away more than 80 parking spots at a price church officials say is unfair. The city is considering taking the property -- whether the church likes it or not -- by condemning it.

After 70 years in Marietta, the congregation at Roswell Street Baptist Church has found itself in a fight with City Hall. The church has bought up several buildings along Roswell Street for meeting space and parking.

"We have invested $14 million in the past six years to stay here in this community," said Dr. John Crooks of the church.

But the city of Marietta wants to take about 80 parking spots for a streetscaping and road-widening project.

"A safety concern for us that the street is going to be too close to this building," said Crooks.

Marietta is considering condemning the property and taking it, whether the church agrees or not, at a price tens of thousands of dollars below what church leaders say is fair.

"We want to be fairly and justly compensated for the parking spots," Crooks said.

City spokesperson Matthew Daily said in a statement, "The city has been working with the Church to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion. We prefer not to condemn and hope to work out a value for the streetscape improvements that is fair to both the Church and city."

Church officials say there's another problem: if all the spots are taken away they won't be left with enough parking spots to meet city code on Sunday mornings.

"That impacts our ability to comply to parking ordinance and it also inhibits the real purpose we purchased this property to start with," Crooks said.

The issue is on the agenda at the Marietta City Council meeting on Wednesday. Roswell Street Baptist Church has rented buses to bring hundreds of church members to that meeting.

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