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Opposition To Hindu Temples In The West

Escondido residents still oppose Hare Krishna temple
San Diego Union Tribune, February 11, 2000

ESCONDIDO -- A proposed Hare Krishna temple hit another bump in the road yesterday at a hearing before the city's Design Review Board, the first step in the approval process.

Plans for a traditional Hindu temple, its domes and spires hidden in the hills of a semirural north Escondido neighborhood, faced stiff opposition from residents at a meeting in November -- and again yesterday before the design board.

Members of the advisory panel lingered on several objections from residents -- including the appropriateness of the project, traffic, the rural character of the neighborhood and landscaping -- but did not make a decision.

Board members said they wanted more information. The project likely will return to the board next month.

Members of the International Society of Krishna Consciousness of San Diego have proposed building an ornate, 30,000-square-foot complex featuring two Hindu-style temples; a 6,400-square-foot, two-story dormitory for monks and nuns; and four single-family homes on a 24-acre parcel.

The design board asked Krishna society officials to present at the next meeting either a three-dimensional model of the project or a video simulation of what it would look like from various points in the neighborhood. Karen Belcher, who lives on Stone Valley Place, said she was concerned about the traffic impact, what the project would look like from her home and the proposed height of the temple and its spires. Robert Morrill, director of the society, said the architects have designed the complex so it would be set back from the road, screened with trees along the perimeter and angled so it would not block residents' views of a 200-foot-high hill nearby. The 299-space parking lot would be tiered to reduce noise and headlight glare to the surrounding homes.

Andrea Dowd, also of Stone Valley Place, said she hoped the city's boards and commissions would consider the appropriateness of such a temple in a semirural neighborhood. She said she believed it was more suited to a commercial zone.

The site, just east of Rincon Avenue and Creek Hollow Place, is in a residential zone, which allows churches with conditional-use permits. The Elks Lodge is proposing a building across from the proposed temple, and developer New Urban West is proposing a 225-unit gated community farther west on Rincon Avenue.

Design Review Board members debated the possible clash between the ornate architecture of the temple and the nearby neighborhood. "At this stage, I'm not convinced this is the right location," said board member James Crone.

One board member, Lucy Berk, said she supported the proposal, citing Escondido as a place known historically for its supportive attitude toward various religious groups and churches. She said the proposed site was an appropriate place for a Hare Krishna temple.

"While many of the neighbors' concerns are legitimate, people spend thousands to go to the Orient to see temples," Berk said. "This will add uniqueness to that end of the community."

The city's reputation for religious tolerance is one of the reasons the Hare Krishnas were attracted to Escondido, members said. Last year, the City Council approved a traditional, Byzantine-style temple, with large gold domes, for the Sikh Society of San Diego. It is proposed for a parcel at West Valley Parkway and Avenida del Diablo in west Escondido.

Evangelistic US Supreme Court Nominee Opposed Hindu Temple Construction

Posted November 3, 2005

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr., a federal appeals judge, sided in 2001 with North Bergen against the same Hindu temple that now wants to build in Parsippany.

Alito wrote a dissenting opinion when the 3rd Circuit Court Of Appeals, in a 2-1 vote, denied the North Bergen Board Of Adjustment's appeal of a district court ruling favoring BAPS Northeast.

"Because I believe that the board of adjustment's decision is supported by substantial evidence and is not arbitrary and capricious, I would reverse the decision of the district court," Alito wrote in a dissent that hinged mostly on technical details.

Alito's dissent said that "such boards possess special knowledge of local conditions and must be accorded wide latitude in the exercise of their discretion."

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal of the 3rd Circuit ruling, clearing the way for the North Bergen temple to be built in an industrial zone.

Parsippany's board of adjustment, which is reviewing BAPS'plan to build a temple in an industrial park, wasn't told about the previous legal battle in North Bergen, board Chairman Robert Iracane said on Wednesday.

"I was never aware that there was any parallel situation," Iracane said.

BAPS Northeast started with temples in Edison and in Flushing, N.Y., before acquiring a onetime restaurant/discothèque in North Bergen in 1998 that was mired in bankruptcy, said former temple attorney Steven R. Tombalakian.

North Bergen and Clifton were the third and fourth BAPS temple sites, Tombalakian said. Parsippany would be the fifth.

BAPS required a use variance to build in North Bergen because the site was in an industrial zone -- sparking a controversy similar to the ongoing debate in Parsippany.

In Parsippany, BAPS wants to transform the two-story, 44,313-square-foot Team Products International Building at 3 Entin Road into an assembly hall with room for 636 people.

At the first two public hearings, residents of the nearby Lake Parsippany neighborhood raised concerns about congestion, parking, and even the smell of food being cooked at the site.

Food odor apparently wasn't an issue in North Bergen. Even so, the North Bergen zoning board rejected BAPS' application in 1999, citing traffic and occupancy objections and rejecting the temple's final offer to reduce its seating capacity from 578 to 505.

BAPS appealed the denial to bankruptcy court because of the property's status. The bankruptcy court overturned the denial, and during a second round of hearings, the zoning board insisted that BAPS hire off-duty police officers as a condition of approval.

BAPS appealed the condition and the bankruptcy court again took the board of adjustment to task -- this time, ordering that the variance be granted without the police requirement.

After a district court rejected North Bergen's appeal, the case landed before Alito and the 3rd Circuit. Out of the three judges, only Alito sided with North Bergen.

"Oddly enough, with all the talk that religious zealots love this choice ... (Alito) gave a lot more deference to the municipal fact-finding than I would have," said Tombalakian, part of the BAPS legal team in that case.

It is difficult to derive a wide-ranging assessment of Alito's legal philosophy -- already the subject of a nationwide debate -- based on his opinion in the BAPS case because his dissent hinged largely on procedural matters.

Alito, for example, didn't say whether he agreed with the police requirement -- only that the Court of Appeals had no jurisdiction in that aspect of the case.

Alito, though, did apply a different standard than Judge Max Rosenn, who wrote the majority opinion, in assessing North Bergen's actions.

Alito argued that New Jersey law requires zoning boards to reject a variance if approval would cause a public detriment or undermine local ordinances.

Rosenn, though, agreed with previous findings that the zoning board failed to incorporate a "balancing test" of positive and negative considerations.

"The parties here agree that the proposed temple constitutes an 'inherently beneficial' use of the subject property," Rosenn wrote.

Alito countered that the North Bergen zoning board "reasonably found that, even with the occupancy limit ... the proposed BAPS temple would cause a substantial detriment to the public good with respect to parking and traffic."

The majority opinion noted that the nightclub had been granted a variance on the same property. Alito's opinion noted that traffic and parking concerns for a house of worship would be different because a nightclub would only draw patrons at night, when other traffic is light.

"I would view this case quite differently if there were any suggestion that the (zoning board) harbored any bias towards BAPS or its members, but I am aware of no such evidence," Alito's dissent also said.

Gerald J. Monahan, attorney for North Bergen in the 2001 case, could not be reached on Wednesday.

Afterward, North Bergen launched another appeal but the Supreme Court declined to hear the case, Tombalakian said.

Will County Board Says 'No' To Hindu Temple Plan

HOMER TOWNSHIP, Ill. (STNG) - The Will County Board has rejected by an 18-to-7 vote a special-use zoning permit for a Hindu temple in southwest Homer Township after neighbors and the village of Homer Glen opposed the plan.

The Ganesha Gayathri Temple was proposed for 4.9 acres on Gougar Road, a few blocks south of 151st Street, in an agricultural zoning district. The applicants also requested two zoning variances, one of which concerned reducing lot-frontage requirements.

"The narrowness of the lot - 165 feet they're requesting, down from 300 feet - isn't conducive to a church," said board member Jim Bilotta (R-Lockport), chairman of the county board's land use committee.
Bilotta also mentioned safety and traffic issues as factors in the case.

"Bottom line, it came down to: It doesn't fit there," he said. "We definitely encourage them to hopefully find some other property in the district, in the area, which we can work with."

Chandra Sekhara Gurukkal and Manikandan Gurukkal proposed a 3,521-square-foot temple that would serve 100 to 200 people, with services on Saturday and Sunday typically being attended by 40 to 80 people, according to county documents.

The Homer Glen Village Board, the Homer Township Board and the township plan commission all opposed the proposal. Many neighbors also opposed the plan.

The Gurukkals' attorney, Daniel F. Hanlon, said the proposed site is near Interstate 355, which is changing the surrounding area through existing or planned business development.

"This neighborhood is changing, and ... the impact our project would have on traffic is minimum," Hanlon said. "The traffic studies show that (the temple) won't be adding many new cars. The updated traffic study shows there's been a significant reduction in traffic since 355 has opened out there."

Copyright 2008 STNG Wire, The Chicago Sun-Times. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Underground Temple Gets A Tough 'OK' in Australia

Years of Bigoted Opposition Finally Overcome by Small Hindu Community

Lord Siva was busy last February 12th - Maha Sivaratri, the most auspicious festival day in His honor. On this exact date in England He won a court decision returning a stolen icon of Him to its rightful South Indian temple, and in Australia He won government approval for His temple to be built in the Sydney suburb of Campbelltown.

The England court case [HINDUISM TODAY, May, 1990] was a subdued and cerebral affair compared to the town council scene in Australia. Rowdy temple opponents threw punches when ejected by police. Supporting council members required armed escort past a hundred local residents enraged at the council's narrow seven-to-six approval of the Hindu temple.

There was a poignant incident at the following week's council meeting which dismissed a last-ditch parliamentary maneuver to overturn the decision. One Hindu lady (originally from Andhra Pradesh and now living in Macquarie Fields) came who had heard about the meeting on television. Not particularly aware of the rancor, she sat near the opposing residents. One of these, who had been taking notes, got up and said, "I am a journalist and I am going to write how horrible Hindus are!" The Hindu lady said in tears, "Why do you say that? What have we done?" The resident replied laughingly and mocked her accent, "Speak in English!" Our reporter at the meeting tried to console the now greatly distressed lady. She told him that she had a young son who had never seen a temple, and she wanted her children to have the opportunity to follow their heritage and culture here in Australia, where they lived.

It was just such concerns that prompted the area's Hindu families - numbering 200 adults and 180 children, all permanently settled in Australia - to decide to build a temple. Local resident and well-known architect Prem Misra was commissioned to design the work and pursue the necessary permits. Hostile resistance from local citizens was instantaneous. The first site selected was rejected by the city council because of "opposition by residents, noise and traffic" even though there are other churches in the area, some newly built. A Baptist Church is just 1,500 feet away from the site. The aldermen suggested Misra build the temple on a rural block - a suggestion which led to the present site. Antipathy from residents only became more vigorous and support from opposing councilmen was not forthcoming.

In interviews with HINDUISM TODAY rival councilmen Jim Merry, Richard Cerveny and Gordon Fetterplace all insisted their opposition was on planning considerations only - that the area in question had been designated as "scenic protection" and not appropriate for a place of worship. But religious prejudice could easily be inferred from remarks such as Merry's statement at a council meeting that the area would be overrun with Hindus and there would be "enclaves and ghettos." An area resident speaking at the council meeting said, "The only reason they're moving in our area is to get in and get our homes cheap." Opponents in the public gallery (later ejected by police) shouted "Go back home" to the Hindus. Residents also cleverly focused on a casual comment by Misra that the temple might be a "tourist attraction" to claim it wasn't a religious development at all but a commercial enterprise about to bring bus-loads of tourists.

A Catholic Franciscan monk, Friar Peter Confeggi, convened a meeting of local Christian leaders who listened respectfully to a presentation by the Hindus, but ultimately refused to issue a statement in their support. Appeals to the World Council of Churches by HINDUISM TODAY resulted in sympathetic responses, but no concrete action or strong statements. The national Australian Council of Churches said in a letter to our Malaysia Editor, Pathmarajah Nagalingam, that they are "concerned at what appears to be a violation of people's right to public worship" and a promise "to seek intervention by the Federal authorities in defense of minority rights" if all legal appeals failed. The Christian's muted reaction was in stark contrast to the international pressure applied by them against Nepal last year in efforts to assure similar rights for Christians in that 97% Hindu country. Australian evangelists had even managed to endanger Australia's foreign aid to Nepal if their desires were not met by the impoverished Himalayan country.

A Catholic church is planned for the same area of Campbelltown just a short distance from the temple and in the same scenic protection zoning. Not a single protest has been raised against it by residents or the council members so vehemently protecting the zoning regulations. Consequently, it was approved by the Campbelltown Council.

The temple's difficulties have taken place against a larger pattern of racial discrimination. The "National Inquiry into Racist Violence" ordered by the Australian government and presented to parliament on April 18th concluded, "Evidence to the Inquiry overwhelmingly demonstrated that racist attitudes and practices, both conscious and unconscious, pervade our institutions." The native Aborigines are the most seriously oppressed, according to the report.

Late in 1990 a report of the Ethnic Affairs Commission of New South Wales analyzed the difficulties of minority religious groups securing sites for places of worship. In one case, Strathfield City Council had refused an application to build a Buddhist monastery after receiving a 273-signature petition against the development and an 840-signature petition supporting it. The council refused the application on the basis the monastery was too big, out of character with the area and "not in the public interest" - grounds which the Land and Environment Court later rejected.

Labor party members of the council led by Mayor Jim Kremmer supported the Hindu's right to a place of worship and their votes ultimately carried the day.

With permit in hand, the temple society is rapidly moving to start construction. The land sale is expected to close in June and fundraising is accelerating. Bhoomi Puja (ground-blessing ceremony) is scheduled for April 28th and will be sanctified with the presence of Swami Chidananda Saraswati (Muniji) and Rameshbhai Oza.

The Campbelltown Hindu temple is planned to be an entirely underground artificial cave. Several famous Hindu temples are in caves - Badami's four cave temples and the Elephanta Siva temple both near Bombay, Tirupparankunram and Rock Port temple in South India, and Ellora in Hyderabad. The temple is for Shiva and Shakti (Parvati). The shape will be elliptical, created through low-profile arches of precast concrete, and built to accommodate 230 worshippers.

Architect Prem Misra is an leading advocate of underground constructions - one of his buried houses in Australia is world famous. He cites some of the numerous advantages: "The main benefit of earth-covered buildings is that the ground surface remains open [retaining] the site's rural characteristics. There is complete noise reduction compared with above-ground buildings. The earth keeps the building at a constant temperature so it need be neither heated nor cooled. We do not have to worry about expensive exterior artwork or carvings. There is no roof or walls to maintain. It is many, many times stronger than above-ground construction."

But Misra, an underground proselytizer in the true sense of the term, doesn't stop with such worldly considerations. He goes right to scripture to support his building methods: "Our ultimate goal in this human form is to attain Self-Realization and liberation from re-birth. A cave-shaped temple sitting deep into the ground connotes the Atman seated deep into the cave of intellect. The Upanishads state. "In the cave of the intellect is the heart, and in the heart the Atman is apprehended. He who enters the cave through meditation and comes to apprehend that he himself is the pure consciousness, to him there is no re-entry into a fresh body."

Article copyright Himalayan Academy.

BBC Report
Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple of UK rose from small beginnings

By Douglas Marshall
BBC News, Tividale

More than 30 years ago a group of Hindu worshippers had an ambitious plan to build a giant temple in their part of the West Midlands of U.K. Now, after decades of searching for a site, a flirtation with bankruptcy and furious opposition from some locals, the founders say their dreams have come true. They have built the Shri Venkateswara (Balaji) Temple, which is the largest Hindu temple in Europe. And during the next five days more than 10,000 devotees are expected there as ceremonies are carried out to sanctify the building.
Official website of the Temple:
Dudley Raod East, Tividale (near Birmingham), West Midlands, B69 3DU, England, UK
Tel: 0121 544 2256, Fax: 0121 544 2257
Email: temple@venkateswara.org.uk

One of the founders, Dr K Somasundara Rajah, said he remembered the idea from the mid-1970s. He said: "We used to have the use of another temple but then the congregation got bigger and in 1974 some of our group thought we should get our own temple. We said we should build a replica of the Tarupati Temple in South India."

Dr K Somasundara Rajah (l) and Dr VP Narayan Rao have spent 30 years planning the temple
That temple is one of the most sacred sites in the Hindu world and has a distinctive architecture that has been followed in the West Midlands. The group spent more than two decades trying to get funding and finding a suitable site for the replica.

Eventually, in 1987, the then Black Country Development Corporation gave them the 13-acre site in Dudley Road East in Tividale, which had formerly been a tip. Crucially the land came with planning permission in place for a temple. "In spite of this we had a lot of opposition from the locals - there were rumours that dead bodies were going to turn up in the river," said Dr Rajah.

"We organised a meeting and nearly got lynched. But we went ahead with it anyway." He said they wondered at times if they were too ambitious, and three of the founders had to put in 100,000 each to stop the temple going bankrupt. "It came from small beginnings and it is wonderful seeing it being celebrated. It is a dream come true for all of us," said Dr Rajah.

Scores of sculptors from India have worked on intricate carvings of Hindu deities which adorn the walls, pillars, ceilings and roof of the temple. It has cost 6.5m to build and will need a further 1m to complete the landscaping around the temple, which is dedicated to Lord Balaji, an incarnation of the god Vishnu.

Some 15 priests have flown in from India and will perform ancient rituals in Sanskrit, calling on the gods to enter the temple, during the five-day festival. Dr VP Narayan Rao, the founding chairman of the temple, said: "With the chanting of the Sanskrit only these people can do it. They are trained from the age of seven. "They will also climb on to the roof of the temple and pour holy water over the whole building. Then it will be a sacred building."

--- Another press report on the Temple Opening early this year (August 2006)

Daily Mail, UK: Europe's largest Hindu temple opens its doors in the Midlands
24th August 2006

The Sri Venkateswara Balaji Temple in Tividale, near Birmingham
Europe's largest Hindu temple has opened in Britain - on the site of a former rubbish dump. More than 10,000 visitors are expected at the 6.5million Sri Venkateswara Balaji Temple in Tividale, near Dudley, West Midlands, by Sunday, the close of a five day festival of inauguration. The complex has been built on 12.5 acres of wasteland in an industrial area close to the M5 motorway.

The temple has been constructed in the style of the ancient and sacred temple of Sri Venkateswara in Tirupati, India. The site has been funded by a 3.3m lottery grant from the Millennium Commission and has taken more than three decades to come to fruition.

Local Hindu worshippers first hit upon the idea of building a giant temple in their part of the West Midlands in 1974. They spent the next 20 years searching for a site and trying to secure funding. It wasn't until 1994 that the then Black Country Development Corporation agreed to donate the site to them for a nominal sum.

Crucially, the site came with planning permission for a temple. The group began fundraising nationwide and in 1996 they were approved lottery funding. Work started on the site the following year and in 1999 the first of three smaller shrines adjacent to the site of the main temple was completed. The same year, a team of 600 builders started work in India on the main temple building. During building work, three of the founders of the temple invested 100,000 of their own money to prevent the project going bankrupt.

The concrete, granite and class structure was built in stages in the subcontinent before being shipped to Britain to be put together on site. A team of 30 highly-skilled crafsmen and stone masons were brought over from India to work on the intricate carvings of Hindu gods and godesses that adorn mahogany doors, stone pillars and the walls and ceilings inside the temple.

One of the founders of the temple, Dr. Kandiah Somasundara Rajah, has been involved with the project since its origins in the 1970s. He said: 'We used to have the use of another temple but then the congregation got bigger and in 1974 some of our group thought we should get our own temple. 'In spite of this we had a lot of opposition from the locals - we organised a meeting and nearly got lynched. 'But we went ahead with it anyway. It came from small beginnings and it is wonderful seeing it being celebrated. It is a dream come true for all of us.'

Thousands of visitors

Yesterday the site was filled with tents erected to accommodate the thousands of visitors who had travelled to witness the ceremonies to mark the temple's inaguration. Organisers laid on traditional Hindu dances and songs to entertain them.

The main temple building, the largest of its kind in Europe built in the South Indian architectural style, will accommodate 400 people at any one time. Some 15 priests have also flown in from Mauritius, India and America to perform ancient rituals in Sanskrit to call on the gods to enter the temple. The festival will culminate with installation of a 12ft deity of Lord Krishna, the supreme Hindu god.

Dr. VP Narayan Rao, the founding chairman of the temple, said: 'The priests are trained from the age of seven to do the chanting. Only these people can do it. 'They will also climb on to the roof of the temple and pour holy water over the whole building. Then it will be a sacred building.' A further 1m is due to be spent on landscaping the complex to transform the area into a meadow with shrubs and woodland in the style of an Indian garden.

Bimal Krishna Das, secretary of the National Council of Hindu Temples, said: 'This is great news for the British Hindu community. The opening of this great temple will be a wonderful addition to the multi-religious society of Britain, especially in West Midlands.'

Britain is home to 600,000 Hindus but the temple is expected to attract worshippers from across Europe and the rest of the world.

Hindus seek temple approval
22/01/2008 1:35:14 PM

It may be a matter of taste, but John Higman thinks a Hindu temple on a block in Nelson will "look terrible".

He isn't alone.

Baulkham Hills Council said it had received "a number of submissions" objecting to an application by the Shree Swaminarayan Temple trust to build on a five-acre block on the corner of Nelson Road and McHales Way.

"Due to the number of concerns raised by local residents, it is likely that council will hold a conciliation conference to hear their concerns," a spokeswoman said.

Mr Higman is the president of the Box Hill-Nelson Progress Association.

He said association members and the community were opposed to the appearance of the temple and concerned about noise pollution and a lack of infrastructure.

"We have no problem with this faith or the people who follow it," he stressed.

"It's the size of the building, its style and the location that is the problem."

Mr Higman said the building, complete with roof domes, would dominate the skyline and increase traffic.

"The plans only include 50 car spaces and the area is also not connected to Sydney Water or sewerage systems," he said.

Karsan Kerai, one of six temple trustees, said he would be happy to meet concerned residents to further explain the plans.

"We have similar, traditional-style temples all over the world, including six in the UK," he said.

"A local temple would enhance the lives of our members, many of whom have lived in Kellyville and Rouse Hill for a number of years, and would allow them to continue their traditions."

Mr Kerai said the temple would draw around 30 people to weekday morning and evening prayer meetings, up to 70 on Saturday and up to 200 on Sunday afternoon.

"We currently meet at the Baulkham Hills Community Centre on Sundays, but to have our own temple will be wonderful," he said.

If approved by the council, the Shree Swaminarayan temple will include a basement level with two further storeys and decorative domes on the roof line. It will be painted dark cream and the domes will have 30-centimetre strips of gold paint.

"It won't be anything like the gold-topped Sikh temple visible from the M7," Mr Kerai said.

NH Temple Faces Eviction

Lender Alleges Saraswati Mandiram Failed to Repay $1.2 Million loan

By Kara Becker

EPPING, N.H. — Saraswati Mandiram, the only Hindu temple in New Hampshire, will likely be forced from its 100-acre campus in Epping sometime this month.

The temple, which has existed on the property for 10 years, is desperately trying to fend off an eviction that was ordered on December 14, because it failed to repay a $1.2 million loan.

Located on the banks of the Lamprey River, the Hindu retreat boasts an auditorium, dining hall, woodworking and auto shops and a barn where animals such as cows and peacocks are raised. The temple also houses a private school, the Vivekananda Academy, from which students as young as 13 have been issued high school diplomas, say temple officials.

But beyond the rolling hills and well-manicured grounds lies a turbulent history of debt, alleged deceit and the cry of a temple that claims gross mistreatment.

The rocky relationship with the private Virginia-based lender Gourley and Gourley, LLC, spans nearly five years.

Court documents show that in the spring of 2003, temple owner Ramadheen Ramsamooj (in photo above), who is the head priest of the nonprofit religious and educational institution, approached the financial firm for a loan of $1.2 million.

The loan was to be used to expand the school – which had 24 pupils at the time – to reach a capacity of 300 students, according to Ramsamooj. What followed, claims the priest, was a run of bad luck that included a fire in January of 2004 that forced the school to halt further expansion plans.

The priest claims that a verbal agreement with Gourley and Gourley assured that after the fire, the lender would allow time for Saraswati Mandiram to rebuild before making further payments on the loan.

But Ramsamooj said that afterwards, the lender went back on the agreement and started foreclosure proceedings, telling Ramsamooj that the temple now owed $2.5 million.

What followed has been a slew of lawsuits and appeals from Ramsamooj and his lawyer, Joshua Gordon, of Concord, trying to prove that Gourley and Gourley has unfairly targeted the religious organization.

Court documents and interviews with representatives of Gourley, however, tell a different story.

After defaulting on their loan with Gourley and Gourley, the temple filed for bankruptcy in May of 2006 and there was a subsequent foreclosure auction of the real estate, which Ramsamooj says was then valued at $7 million.

An original buyer of the property defaulted, and the land was sold to the second highest bidder at the sale for $2 million. The buyer, G&G Epping, LLC, a subsidiary of the original lender Gourley and Gourley, has since tried to recapture ownership of the property but has been stalled by appeals from the temple.

"It's a simple story: a loan was made, the loan was not paid back, the land was collateral, and we exercised our rights," said Gourley and Gourley representative Demetris Voudouris. "The court has sided with us on every single case. I admit that we are hard money, not private money, so we are more expensive. But we also expect our borrowers to know what they're getting into when they sign and be able to stick to the commitments they make. It was a loan – everyone understood the terms and agreements."

Voudouris denied all accusations by Ramsamooj. "Nothing he is telling you is correct. He's lying, and these are all delay tactics that have proven to not be successful on any ground."

Voudouris also claimed that Ramsamooj originally said the loan was for a school and failed to mention its affiliation with a religious temple.

He said that Ramsamooj said that the school would have an ayurvedic medicine component, but only spoke of the Hindu temple years after the original loan. He suggested that Ramsamooj is using the religious component of the facility to gain sympathy in its eviction.

Yet Saraswati Mandiram's camp continues to insist that they have been unfairly targeted and taken advantage of because of Ramsamooj's religious and peaceful nature and lack of knowledge of business affairs.

They allege misrepresentation and fraud, saying that the lender created the third-party G&G Epping, LLC just to buy back the land so it could sell it to developers or subdivide it and then sell it later.

Voudouris, however, said Gourley and Gourley kept no secret about G&G Epping and noted that using such a subsidiary is common practice.

"When lenders foreclose, they always set up a separate legal entity — it happens all the time and is just good legal planning strategy to have in case something goes wrong," said Voudouris. "It's not a new story, nor is it uncommon practice. What you're seeing here is a man that is unwilling to take responsibility for his actions, and instead of dealing with it responsibly and taking steps to cure the deficit, he is reaching out in ways that are taking up not only our time but the court's time as well."

There is also dispute over whether the temple has made its loan payments. Voudouris maintains that Saraswati Mandiram only made the first few payments, and then secretly broke the loan agreement by taking out a second mortgage. But Ramsamooj maintains it has made good on the loan.

"We have not committed any wrongdoing," Ramsamooj said. He said that his temple had not missed payments and that Gourley and Gourley instead stopped accepting the temple’s payments.

"We have a mortgage, and have paid the mortgage company on time for two years. Without notice, they've stopped taking payments. We defaulted on our loan because they stopped taking money from our line of credit."

Voudouris said that the temple is making Gourley and Gourley out to be the bad guys in what is merely a simple case of a borrower not paying back his debt to the lender. "We're not bad people; we're not trying to do anything unscrupulous. But frankly we've had it with them. I'm sorry that this happened to him and that we couldn't work out a way to cure the debt, but this is our job and all we are doing is exercising our rights as lawful owners to property that has been found in several rulings to be ours."

Currently, there is an appeal filed by the temple at the New Hampshire Supreme Court that could take up to a year to resolve, but Gourley has already worked to put final eviction plans into action. Ramsamooj and his lawyer, Joshua Gordon, also filed an unsuccessful emergency appeal at Rockingham County Superior Court on December 14, a day before the scheduled eviction.

"We're hoping to prevent the purported owners of the land from evicting the priest to take any action from destroying the sanctity of the property while it's on appeal," said Gordon.

Ramsamooj said he has no plans to leave the Epping property and that he feels he has such a strong case that the judge will mediate a settlement.

"That eviction is unconscionable without giving us the due process of the law. We have no plans to move out yet," Ramsamooj said.

He said he’s also counting on media attention and a showing from supporters to help stave off the eviction. And he feels his plan is working.

During a follow up interview on December 26, the priest said that his temple had yet to be forced from its property.

"There must have been enough media pressure that they never followed through," said Ramsamooj. "We found out they never called the sheriff — they were just threatening us… They're just trying to intimidate us so we will leave on our own accord, but there is no way this is going to happen."

Voudouris, however, maintains that the eviction just hasn't been settled with the sheriff and that Gourley and Gourley is merely waiting for the finalized plans for Saraswati Mandiram to evacuate the property.

So far, the temple's 10 live-in residents, 16 animals and five large marble religious statues are still housed on the property.

"I'm not going to leave … for someone to desecrate all that we have worshiped for 10 years," said Ramsamooj. "This is a predator lender who has taken us for a ride because we are docile in nature."

Source: IndiaNewEngland.com


Hindu temple plan OK’d by commission
Scott Spielman

The expansion of the Hindu Temple in Canton Township cleared a major hurdle on Monday.

The planning commission voted unanimously to approve the site plan for the temple on Cherry Hill Road, just east of Canton Center, despite reservations about the size of the project and the constraints of the property.

“It does look pretty squeezed in, but it meets all of our ordinances,” said Commissioner Katherine Bovitz. “I don’t know how we could vote against it.”

The issue came up in December and was tabled after residents from three surrounding subdivisions showed up to oppose the plan. Residents of the Kingston Estates, Pheasant Glenn and Glengarry Village subdivisions told commissioners that the proposed expansion was too large for the site, would negatively impact their property values and generated safety concerns. They also didn’t like the plan because it moved the structure further from the road—and closer to homes—and placed a parking lot on either side of it.

“We’re not opposed to the expansion; what we’re concerned about is the placement—where the building will be located,” said Jim Shepperd, a representative of the Glengarry Village Homeowner’s Association.

“This project is very unique, it’s very narrow,” he added. “It cuts very deep into the surrounding neighborhoods. We believe there’s a need to respect existing neighborhoods.”

Bryan Amann, an attorney representing the temple officials, suggested the item be tabled to give them time to work with residents.

That cooperation sparked several modifications to the plan that weren’t required by township ordinances, he said. The new plan called for increased storm water capacity, a limitation of the hours of operation, taller and steeper berms heavily forested with additional trees as well as a less intrusive lighting system that automatically drops to a ‘security’ level of lighting no later than an hour after the last scheduled activity ends.

A gate will be installed to the back parking lot to alleviate security concerns and they will have to install a 300-foot deceleration lane to the east and a 460-foot passing lane to the west.

“All of these improvements are expensive—they’ll cost hundreds of thousands of dollars—but we believe they’ll mitigate all of these issues,” Amann told the planning commission on Monday.

The developer will also work with an acoustic engineer to ensure that no noise from the temple leaks into the adjacent homes.

“We’re going to make a good faith effort,” Amann said. “This is something that will be very subjective. We’re tying to work to solve these issues so we won’t have problems going forward.”

He said the building could not be moved closer to the road for practical reasons. Wayne County dictates where the curb cut will be, and moving the structure closer to the road would adversely impact the traffic flow. It would also create a larger parking lot behind the structure and make for a longer walk for worshippers.

“This site, essentially, has a balanced layout,” Amann said. “The building needs to be located where, on the site, it works best.”

Residents still thought the 30,000 square foot structure was too large for the narrow strip of land.

“It’s a beautiful building, but it’s too large and too tall for the lot,” said Ramone Lara, president of the Kingston Estates Homeowner’s Association.

Commissioner Ron Lieberman agreed. He said he voted for approval because the project met township conditions. The original temple was constructed in 1988, prior to the subdivisions, he added.

“I believe this project does not meet the spirit of the law,” he said. “I’ll vote yes, but with concerns internally. I hope that the Hindu Temple does not move ahead with this project. The site is just too tight.”

Commissioner Greg Greene agreed.

“This is one of those situations where someone is going to be a little hurt if we approve this,” he said. “There are other property owners involved and their views are going to change. But I don’t believe we have any other choice but to vote for this project.”

The township planning commission is a recommending body. The board of trustees will cast the final approval on the project. Amann said he hoped to have it on the agenda for the March 11 meeting.

Hindu temple terrorised by teens

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By Michelle Draper | March 11, 2008

MEMBERS of a Hindu temple in Melbourne's south are worried about escalating attacks on worshippers by groups of teenagers, who have been terrorising devotees and vandalising property.

The board of the Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple in Carrum Downs has complained to Victoria Police after the incidents worsened.

In one of the more serious incidents, a devotee who chased a group of teenagers away after they attempted to steal monetary offerings from the temple was pelted with beer bottles.

In another incident about one month ago, teenagers put a padlock onto the main gate, locking out worshippers arriving for an important function.

Temple authorities were forced to cut off the padlock to let in the worshippers, who had been told by the teenagers the event was not going ahead.

Shri Shiva Vishnu Temple president, Perayirampillai Thanikasalam, said the attacks started as pranks but had become increasingly violent over the past two years.

He said the incidents had scared the priests and their families, including young children.

Three priests, including two with families, live at the temple. The temple is a central point for about 100,000 Victorian Hindus.

Mr Thanikasalam said the teenagers were aged between about 13 and 15.

He said they also demanded money from devotees when they came to the temple to pray, sometimes lying down in front of cars as they arrived to force people to part with cash.

The priests and their families "get a bit scared," he said.

The temple manager also had been targeted.

"They have thrown eggs at the shrine and at our temple manager," he said.

"We don't want to have any ill feeling with the local community," he said.

But, he added: "People will be scared to come to the temple."

Mr Thanikasalam said he had complained to Frankston Police, who took photos of the damage and suggested surveillance cameras be installed outside. Cameras already operated inside the temple, he said.

In another incident, new lighting that had been delivered to the temple for installation was smashed by teens who entered the building.

Mr Thanikasalam said he was concerned about the incidents continuing when construction on a new cultural centre was to start in the next two months.

He said the construction site would not be a safe place for the teens.

Comment was being sought from Victoria Police.


Concerns of the Community Members
At a Planning Commission public hearing in September of 2004, 44 community members spoke, 50% in support of the project and 50% in opposition to it. The opposition cited concerns such as the "visual impacts of the complex," "conflicts with rural character of the community," traffic, and loss of potential uses for the space. (18) In addition to the speakers at the meeting, the Planning Commission Office of Chino Hills has been inundated with letters regarding the project since its possibility was first announced in 2002. "To date [as of September 14, 2004], staff counts a total of 1,600 comments, 809 of which are in support of the project, 791 in opposition. Comments in support of the project generally address the aspects of aesthetics, cultural diversity, religious freedom, and the positive nature of the BAPS community. Those in opposition of the project generally address conflicts with the community's rural character, traffic, loss of potential economic revenues by not utilizing the property for commercial purposes, and loss of a potential multifamily housing site." (19)
The letters from community members published in the report express many of these concerns, especially worries about the complex "blending in." Cassandra Putinier, in a letter dated July 3, 2003, writes, "The scope of this project seems too ambitious for the size of the congregation pledging to build it and sustain the complex." (20)
Other community members feel uncomfortable with such an obvious minority presence. In particular, Larry Blugrind, a Chino Hills resident, vocalized this concern in two letters. The first, dated June 5, 2003, reads: "Should this temple be allowed to be built, you are opening the door to Pandora's box. What will then happen is, for example, Chinese, Arabic, and other nationalities will want to build buildings in Chino Hills with THEIR third world architecture, and part of Chino Hills will look like a third world country." (21) saying in a later letter, dated June 21, 2003, he writes, referring to "that horrible Hindu temple," saying, "For one, it will RUIN, i.e., NOT FIT INTO the RURAL ATMOSPHERE of Chino Hills!!!"
One letter expressed concern because most Chino Hills residents are Judeo-Christian, and Hinduism, which the letter incorrectly defined as a polytheistic religion, goes against the beliefs of the majority of the residents. (22)

Response to Concerns
It seems that community members are worried that the complex will stand out as a result of its size and architectural style, that the temple and cultural center is not being given enough time to be considered, that they have been uninformed about the project, that it is too large and imposing, and that it will attract unwanted tourists. Other concerns include worries about traffic congestion, insufficient parking and room for growth, lack of generating new revenue, and limited benefits for the entire community. BAPS has attempted to address most if not all of these concerns by putting lots of money into research on these issues. The city has also sponsored tests and studies. The research and analysis has proven that many of these concerns, particularly those about traffic congestion and revenue generation, are invalid. The project, set along a freeway, will not affect residential areas, thus not blocking mountain views, and a continuation of Fairfield Ranch Road will alleviate any traffic problems the center may create. BAPS has planned for more parking spaces than the city requires and is speculated to actually increase revenue due to its expansion of Fairfield Ranch Road and the resulting accessibility of that area. (23) In addition, BAPS states on the website that visitors and attendance at the temple will unquestionably generate additional sales and commerce in Chino Hills.
The other concerns, which cannot be evaluated as easily by quantitative research, have been harder for BAPS to address or, at the very least, diminish. In the fiction/fact section of its website, BAPS responds to the concern that the center will serve only a very limited section of the city's population: "The temple and cultural center will be open to all faiths, and to the general public...The size of the temple facility itself is similar to other churches, and the size of weekly attendance will be similar to the congregations of other churches throughout the community. Today, Chino Hills has over 500 Indian families, and is the geographic center of a large Indian-American population in southern California that has been part of the region's economic vibrancy over the last decade. The City of Chino Hills is an ideal and appropriate location for this temple and cultural center complex." (24) Additionally, BAPS provides a plethora of reasons why the center will not just serve the community but also be beneficial to it, as mentioned earlier in this report. (see citation number 32)
BAPS has made an effort to incorporate the local community into the project, in its design, process of getting approved, and intention. Architecturally, the center has been designed with both Indian and Californian styles in mind: "the cultural center is designed to incorporate a more typical California style, and is centered around two courtyards, further reflecting traditional California design." (25) This fact is used in response to the community concern of the center clashing with the surrounding area.
Responding to concerns that the community is not getting a say in the matter, BAPS says: "The City's Planning Commission held two public hearings, during which proponents explained the project in detail, and supporters and opponents voiced their opinions. The appearance and impacts of this project have been open to public scrutiny for a long period of time." (26) This is apparent in the letters and publicly voiced concerns available in the Planning Commission Office.

Buena Park, California Rejects Plan for Hindu Temple
Nov 3, 1999
Los Angeles Times
On November 3, 1999, the Los Angeles Times reported that city leaders in Buena Park, CA turned down a proposed $50-million Hindu complex on Tuesday, November 2nd. The complex would have included the nation's most lavish Hindu temple, a 20,000-square-foot structure with golden walls and spires, and the second biggest temple outside of India after the Hindu temple in London, England. The Buena Park City Council voted to oppose zoning changes necessary for the Hindu complex to be built, since the site is located in the city's "entertainment corridor." The vote took place at a tense and crowded public meeting where residents voiced overwhelming opposition to the project, on the basis of traffic, parking, and noise problems. Michael Sieverts, vice president of a real estate investment company that is helping the Hindu group Bochasanwasi Shree Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha with the project, voiced disapproval over the City Council's vote, stating that they "essentially voted to not even negotiate with the Hindus...That's not fair. This was just supposed to be a study session...We didn't even get a chance to offer a formal proposal." Shukavak Das, a Hindu scholar and head priest of the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir in Riverside, CA, expressed support for the Hindu organization coordinating the project: "They are a first-class Hindu organization and Buena Park should be taking this thing with open arms...It would bring a lot of business. If they do what they did in London, it will be...an architectural monument." Das added that, "there's a renaissance of Hinduism in America right now...Organizations from all over India are building temples in American cities as fast as they can."

Feb 25, 2003
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
On February 25, 2003 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that "security video cameras will be installed outside the Hindu Temple of St. Louis as the result of a firebombing that caused only superficial damage over the weekend, the head of its board said Monday... A bottle containing a flammable liquid was set afire and thrown against the front door of the temple, at 725 Weidman Road in west St. Louis County, between 9:30 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m. Sunday, police said. The fire quickly burned itself out, charring a 3 1/2- to 4-foot section of the door... Krishna Reddy, president of the board, doesn't know what to make of the incident but said it certainly created fear that someone may be targeting the Hindu community."
Feb 25, 2003
On February 25, 2003 KSDK TV reported that "Members of the Hindu Temple of St. Louis are on edge today, after someone threw a firebomb at the temples door, causing fire damage to the ornate structure... Temple Members say the damage was discovered Sunday morning before services. Pieces of glass from a broken bottle were lying in front of the ten-foot doors that lead into the Temple built in 1990, and decorated by Hindu Priests from India."
Mar 1, 2003
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
On March 1, 2003 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch printed a letter from Dr. Warren E. Crews, President of the Board Interfaith Partnership of Metropolitan St. Louis. In it he stated, "I would like to extend the sympathy of the Interfaith Partnership, a coalition of 28 faith groups in the St. Louis area, to members of the Hindu Temple of St. Louis. The vandalizing of the front doors of their temple is an outrage. Such acts of religious hatred must not be tolerated. They are a threat to all of us. We have stood up to threats against our Jewish and Muslim neighbors. Now we must do so for the Hindu community."
Mar 4, 2003
The Associated Press
On March 4, 2003 The Associated Press reported that "security is being stepped up for a Hindu temple that was firebombed twice in a week and federal agents are trying to determine if the attacks were youthful mischief or hate-fueled religious bigotry... No one was injured by the attacks that slightly damaged the Hindu Temple of St. Louis on Feb. 23 and last Saturday. The temple's massive metal doors blocked the first firebomb, and flame-retardant carpeting limited damage from the second, which was thrown through a window... There was no immediate indication if the Feb. 23 attack was related to one that same day at the Hindu Temple and Cultural Center of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kan., about 250 miles away, where someone broke the glass front door and caused $700 in damage."
Mar 24, 2003
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
On March 24, 2003 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that "[Thomas] Laird is the father of Paul Laird, one of two teens charged hours before with felonies in attacks on the temple that had left the faithful and the police trying to figure out what anybody had against Hindus... It was nothing personal, Laird told [Jiwan Singla, a member of the temple], blaming the effects of alcohol - not religious hatred - for driving his son and friend Nathaniel Conner. The elder Laird apologized, and left the building sobbing... 'There is no reason for him (Paul Laird) to have any animosity toward the Hindu temple,' Thomas Laird said in an interview earlier Monday."

Jun 18, 2006
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
On June 18, 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported, "As one Hindu group builds a large new temple on Lawrenceville Highway in Lilburn, a second group wants to build a similar temple a mile or so down the road.

Both temples are modeled on ones in India and Europe. The second temple would be less than half as big as the one now under construction but otherwise a near duplicate of the first one.

Ritesh Desai, a spokesman for one of the Hindu groups, likens the situation to two Baptist congregations building new churches on the same road.

'Some people have taken this more or less as a rivalry or a competition,' said Desai, a spokesman for the organization that is building the temple now under construction in the city of Lilburn. 'It's just a way of each group representing their faith.'

Plans for the second temple have hit a snag, however.

Gwinnett County planning officials say the temple is too big for its commercial neighborhood and it doesn't fit in.

Why is a huge temple OK but a smaller one too large?... The 27,000-square-foot temple now under construction is located within the city limits of Lilburn; the second, 13,000-square-foot temple is proposed for four acres just outside the city limits, in Gwinnett County.

So the builders of the second temple need to win approval from county officials, something they have not yet be able to do... Both Hindu groups say the temples are needed to serve the growing South Asian population in metro Atlanta. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated about 49,000 Asian Indians lived in metro Atlanta in 2004, although many are not Hindu.

Spokesmen say the 200-member congregation building the Gwinnett County temple and the 500-member Clarkston-based group building the Lilburn temple hold similar beliefs."

Zoning Board Approves Hindu Temple in Parsippany (New Jersey)
Jun 15, 2006
Daily Record
On June 15, 2006 Daily Record reported, "The BAPS [Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha] Northeast congregation Wednesday night won 5-2 zoning board approval to create a Hindu worship center and apartment for its priest in part of a warehouse on Entin Road. Board chairman Robert Iracane and Brad E. Muniz voted against the plan. The vote came after more than three hours of sworn testimony from many opponents and supporters who spoke under three-minute limits set by Iracane. The board meet in executive session afterward and then voted to grant the group a variance to build a temple in a special economic development district, where houses of worship are not among the allowed uses. At the special meeting, which drew about 100 people, approximately 15 residents had spoken against the plan in the first hours of the session. They stressed that their objections had nothing to do with the Hindu religion, but they said approving the temple would set a bad precedent in Parsippany. 'This would set the precedent for spot zoning in our neighborhood,' said Mary Purzycki, who has lived in the same home for 37 years. 'We're not newcomers to this situation.' Another resident, Frank Dedrick, came to the meeting with his wife, Terry. The couple said they have spent 51 years in the neighborhood and originally moved there because it was a quiet area. 'We were promised by Henry Luther that the zoning would never change,' Terry Dedrick said, referring to the former mayor of the town. 'Believe me, this has nothing to do with religion,' Frank Dedrick said. 'We know that there are religious holidays that bring hundreds of people to the temple,' he said, adding that parking and traffic would become a problem. 'I am here because I don't want a temple or a 24-hour spa in my backyard,' said Shannon Cullinan, adding that the issue in this situation was about 'protecting the quality of life of Parsippany citizens.'"

Residents Protest Noise Disturbances at NJ Hindu Temple
Sep 9, 2004
Sayreville Suburban
On September 9, 2004 Sayreville Suburban reported, "Residents who live near the Dwarkadhish Temple on Washington Road say noise from the Hindu temple continues to be a major disturbance. In turn, temple officials are threatening to sue certain area residents and the borough for religious discrimination. The temple and a group of surrounding residents have been at odds over its outdoor activities, and borough officials have found themselves in the middle of the debate... Shirley Dill said the issues of noise from the temple, which opened on Washington Road 10 years ago, didn’t start until the summer of 2003. While a number of residents have said the temple was to originally hold most events indoors, with about 500 people in attendance, many have instead found their way outside in tents, with speakers and microphones used to accommodate thousands of attendees. A nine-day celebration at the temple, which Dill claimed had music playing through a public-address system until 10 p.m. each night, brought residents before the council in August of last year."

Hindus Want Place to Worship; Neighbors Worry about Land Loss (Illinois)
Dec 17, 2006
by Paul Wood
CHAMPAIGN - The highly educated diaspora of Hinduism is looking for a permanent home in Champaign County.

Hindus have met for years at the Urbana Civic Center, but they can't put up art works or other cultural signposts from the world's oldest religion in the temporary space.

Right now, they're looking at farmland on Dewey-Fisher Road (Mattis Avenue), just north of the Thor-O-Bred Acres subdivision in Hensley Township.

The proposed 6,500-square-foot temple would have a 63-car parking lot, a septic system and leach field just south of the building and a 4,400-square-foot lawn with ornamental plants.

But the temple has raised some concerns about drainage and high traffic from neighbors, who will have the chance to speak out at a February meeting of the Champaign County Zoning Board of Appeals, director John Hall said.

Two leaders of the new temple, University of Illinois professors Shiv Kapoor and Pallassana R. Balgopal, promise to be good neighbors wherever the Hindu Temple is built.

Religious Diversity News - The Pluralism Project

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Hindu Temple in New Jersey Under Intense Scrutiny, With a Language Barrier (New Jersey)
Apr 22, 2008
by Staff Writer
Hinduism Today/www.nj.com
Readington officials will not vote on a controversial plan to build a 30,000-square-foot Hindu temple on Coddington Road until June.

The proposed CharDham Hindu Temple has been before the local board of adjustment for a conditional-use variance for more than two years. At a meeting tonight, the board closed the public comment period but carried the hearing to May, when the temple's attorney, Lloyd Tubman, is scheduled to give her summation.

The temple has faced stiff resistance from nearby residents, who fear an increase in traffic and unmonitored growth of temple membership will dramatically impact the neighborhood's rural character. Temple officials have said the temple will limit its attendance to 150 devotees, but neighbors argue such a limit is ill-conceived and impossible to enforce.

Neighbors Fight Proposed Hindu Temple (Ohio)
Apr 21, 2008
by Colette M. Jenkins
Beacon Journal
Mayor Michael Lyons is hoping for an amenable resolution to the controversy over the proposed construction of a Hindu temple in the village.

''This is a very polarizing kind of thing that leads to the insertion of issues (like bigotry) that have nothing to do with whether the proposal meets our code,'' Lyons said. ''I certainly hope that there can be a place where there is something that can work for everyone.''

At issue is the pending vote on the final plans for the proposed 3,772-square-foot Sree Venkateswara Temple of Cleveland on seven acres at 4406 Brecksville Road. The Richfield Planning and Zoning Commission could act on the plans as early as Tuesday, its next meeting, according to Roger D. Swan, planning and zoning director.

The commission approved preliminary plans for the temple on Nov. 27. Its decision was officially recorded on Dec. 11.

Nine days later, Concerned Richfield Homeowners, a group of local residents who oppose construction of the temple, asked Summit County Common Pleas Court to review the commission's action.

The court has granted a stay, prohibiting the commission from granting any zoning permits for the temple pending a hearing before Judge Patricia Cosgrove. That means that if the commission approves the final plans on Tuesday, the village cannot immediately issue a zoning permit.

Proposed Hindu Temple Upsets Neighbors (Arizona)
Jun 8, 2007
by Edythe Jensen
The Arizona Republic
A group of Valley Hindus who want to build a traditional-style temple in central Chandler have cleared their first hurdle.

The Planning and Zoning Commission voted 4-1 to recommend approval for a special use permit to build the SVK Religious and Cultural Center on the southwestern corner of Dobson Road and Galveston Street. The plot is a former mini-farm and is across the street from a Mormon church.

The decision came after a record-setting hearing and more than 50 people weighing in on both sides. The City Council has the final say on June 28.

The Hindus, most who came to the Valley from India, promised to be good neighbors. Many who live near the site, some in million-dollar homes on large lots, said the temple design and busy use doesn't fit the area and vowed to take their fight to court if necessary.

It's not about race, culture or religion, neighbors insisted. They just don't want a Hindu temple next to their Chandler homes.

Hindu Temple Plans Rattle Chandler Area (Arizona)
Apr 11, 2007
by Chris Markham
East Valley Tribune
Plans for a Hindu temple in one of Chandler’s few horse-property neighborhoods are upsetting some residents.

The subdivision of milliondollar homes built on singleacre lots near Dobson and Galveston roads has been a residential neighborhood since 1929, said resident Thomas Hornyan.

“It’s been one of the unique points in the city and this will damage that,” Hornyan said Tuesday during a neighborhood meeting held by members of the Sri Venkata Krishna congregation.

The congregation has begun applying for a use permit to build a 7,500 square-foot religious and cultural center. It will resemble a 12th-century Hindu temple in Udupi, India, and will provide the 30-40 family congregation with its first official home.

The temple will feature a prayer hall, dining area, kitchen, classroom and living areas for priests. Two priests and a facility manager will live there full-time, though space will be reserved for the faith’s pontiff when he visits from India.

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