Clearwater candidates weigh in on land purchases tied to Scientology

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In campaign literature and public forums so far, few of the eight candidates running for Clearwater City Council have brought up the impact that the Church of Scientology has had on downtown.

But the winners in the March 19 election will likely face a decision with major implications for the church and the city.

Since 2017, limited liability companies controlled by Scientology parishioners have gradually purchased at least 200 properties in the downtown core and nearby North Marina area. They have spent about $163 million, almost all in cash, according to a Tampa Bay Times analysis of property records.

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