Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Hindu temple makes offer to prompt board approval

Hindu temple makes offer to prompt board approval

Author: Danielle Camilli
Publication: Burlington County Times
Date: January 18, 2004
URL: http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/112-01182004-229587.html

In an effort to reassure the Planning Board and public its planned Hindu temple and Indian cultural center will not exceed the designated occupancy limit, the developers have agreed to host its most popular religious festival elsewhere.

That offer is likely to be a condition of approval if the Planning Board authorizes plans by the Hindu Temple Association to build the 19,427- square-foot center on Route 73 between Dutch Road and Ardsley Drive.

The association made the offer at Thursday's board meeting after a lengthy debate about the occupancy limit at the center and whether the proposed 190 parking spaces would be adequate.

The board also heard testimony from neighboring residents who said the center would affect traffic on Route 73 and parking would overflow to the side of the state highway if the parking lot filled.

The hearing was extended to Feb. 19. At that same meeting, the board also is scheduled to review plans for a hotel/conference center and a furniture store. Those would be constructed on other portions of the subdivided, 28-acre site.

Tim Prime, attorney for the association, and Dr. Dhiraj Panda, a principal with the group, repeatedly told the board occupancy at the center would be limited to 570. Prime said the proposed number of parking spaces is sufficient, based on a township ordinance that requires one space for every three seats in houses of worship.

However, board Chairman Howard Bronstein expressed concern about parking problems, saying the center could, by its square footage, handle significantly more people.

"You backed into that number, and that gives me pause as to what the real number is," he said.

Prime said the association used the township ordinance to calculate the number of parking spaces.

"Under what standard do we not have enough parking?" he asked. "The applicant has testified that 570 is the maximum, and if you don't believe the applicant, you have to decide what to do."

Panda said an estimated 100 to 150 would attend most events at the center. Only one religious holiday, the fall Festival of Diwali, draws more.

Bronstein asked if the association would agree to prohibit the festival at the center.

"That would be like asking a Catholic church not to have Christmas," Prime said.

However, after a short break, the association said it would agree. Panda said the association would continue to rent a high school for the festival, as it has done for a decade.

The association also revised its plan to include a secondary emergency access to the property. The road will run from Route 73 to the cultural center.

However, the association would need a special Department of Environmental Protection permit to fill wetlands. Obtaining one can be a lengthy and expensive process, Prime said. The association is seeking preliminary approval for the access road from the township before it proceeds with its approvals from the state.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements