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City Council Approves Controversial Mission Valley Religious Resort Project

An artist's rendering of the redesigned Morris Cerullo Legacy Center is seen ...

Credit: Morris Cerullo World Evangelism

Above: An artist's rendering of the redesigned Morris Cerullo Legacy Center is seen in this undated photo.

A long-planned but controversial religious tourism and conference center project in Mission Valley was approved Tuesday by the San Diego City Council.

The $131 million Legacy International Project, proposed by televangelist Morris Cerullo, was rejected by the council's five Democrats last month over the potential for increased traffic in an already congested area. However the council unanimously agreed to rehear the project to give the applicants a chance to hammer out last-minute concessions.

The developers eventually agreed to perform annual driveway counts for the first three years to ensure the traffic the project generates matches projections. They also agreed to change the project's operating hours if the number of vehicle trips exceeds estimations.

Cerullo has embraced the discredited "ex-gay" movement in the past, and the most vocal opposition to the project came from members of the local LGBTQ community. Most of those opponents, however, said publicly that they were only concerned about traffic and other quality of life impacts, not Cerullo's religious beliefs.

Councilman Scott Sherman said the council members were only allowed to consider the land-use question, not ancillary issues.

"What's important here is whether or not (the project) meets the guidelines the city sets forth," said Sherman, who represents Mission Valley. "I believe this does, and it answers every question that we've addressed for traffic mitigation has been taken care of."

RELATED: Planning Commission Recommends Approval Of Christian Tourist Resort

Slated for the 18-acre site of the former Mission Valley Resort, the project encompasses five buildings, including a new 127-room hotel and restaurant. It will also have a replica of Jerusalem's Wailing Wall and a domed theater featuring biblical films.

Cerullo's organization plans to add one lane in each direction on Hotel Circle South, and to operate shuttle services to minimize car trips.

On a 7-2 vote, the council approved the project's environmental impact report and development permit, along with amendments to zoning plans. Council members Chris Ward and Georgette Gomez voted to reject the project.

A long-planned but controversial religious tourism and conference center project on Hotel Circle was OK'd Tuesday by the San Diego City Council.

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