Mediator to settle city, church property dispute in Marietta - KMSP-TV

Mediator to settle city, church property dispute in Marietta

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MARIETTA, Ga. -

Hundreds of members of a Marietta church descended on City Hall Wednesday to protest the taking of church property by eminent domain.

Marietta officials want to expand Roswell Street, but in order to do that, they would need to take about 80 parking spots owned by a 70-year-old church. About 200 members of the Roswell Street Baptist Church showed up to protest the move.

Church leaders say what the city wants to pay for the space is unfair.

"Now they want to just do a cash settlement for $365,000 and I've got an appraisal for $1.6 million," said Dr. Ernest Easley of the church.

A motion was on Wednesday's City Council meeting agenda that would have condemned the church so that Marietta could take it by eminent domain.

"I mean let's face it, that's a nasty word, especially when you talk about a city government and a church," said Easley.

After they saw the hundreds of church members in attendance, the council took the eminent domain decision off the table for now, and instead voted to go into mediation with the church.

"My desire is to try to hammer this out, work with the church and let the church work with the city also and to try and find some common ground," said Marietta City Councilmember Anthony Coleman.

The two sides have been arguing over the issue for nearly a decade.

"All we're asking is from the city, to be fair, you know, to give us a fair amount of money for the land that they're taking from us," said Easley.

A professional mediator will be brought in to try to help reach a decision.

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