CLEARWATER — The city gave final approval Wednesday for the Church of Scientology to dedicate its massive Flag Building this weekend, capping a three-month process that often sparked tension between Tampa Bay's third-largest city and one of its largest institutions.
The city special events permit outlines street and sidewalk closures, noise restrictions, police and fire involvement and other details for the weekend, which will be highlighted by Sunday's grand opening of the $145 million Flag Building downtown. The church has said it expects 10,000 members to attend.
Portions of Fort Harrison Avenue, a major north-south thoroughfare, and sidewalks on either side of the street will be closed between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sunday. Security fencing will be erected to separate people invited to the private event from the general public.
Amplified sound will be permitted only during scheduled events, must end by 11 p.m. and can't exceed 95 decibels. Any noisier and the church will receive one warning before a police officer adjusts the sound.
City Manager Bill Horne has told the church it must follow the city's rules set forth in the permit if it wants to get approval for two other major events scheduled later this year: an international gathering of Scientologists the weekend after Thanksgiving and an anticipated New Year's Eve celebration.
The church didn't respond to a request for comment.