Religious Diversity News

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Zoning Battle Erupts Over Hindu Temple in New Jersey

Source: Home News Tribune,21282,923625,00.html?sec=main?=centraljersey

On March 12, 2004 Home News Tribune reported, “More than 30 Edison residents and the township’s engineer crowded into Borough Hall last night to oppose construction of a Hindu temple they say will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood.

The International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization wants to erect a one-story, 14,000-square-foot temple on a 6.7-acre plot in South Plainfield, near the Edison border. Fleet Avenue, the lone roadway to the site, cuts across six dead-end streets in a quiet Edison neighborhood.”

Zoning Battle for a Chapel in Hawaii

Source: First Amendment Center

Wire Service: AP

On November 30, 2004 the Associated Press reported, “after 10 years, two denials, a federal lawsuit and a contested case hearing, a small rural congregation has won a permit to build a chapel on its property. The Maui County planning commission first denied Hale O Kaula a special-use permit to build on its property, which is zoned for agricultural use, in 1995. Earlier this month the commission unanimously approved the permit, following a nine-hour meeting. Conditions for the permit include limiting both service hours and attendance at weekly meetings and four special annual events. In turn, the church dropped a federal lawsuit against the county and was to receive an undisclosed payment from the county, covered by insurance.”

Zoning Board Approves Hindu Temple in Parsippany

Source: 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.'”

Zoning Change Rejected for Muslim Cemetery in TX

Source: The Fayette County Review

On November 12, 2004 The Fayette County Review reported, “the Fayette County Development Committee has recommended the County Commission not approve a re-zoning request by the North American Islamic Trust to allow a cemetery to be established in a residential district on Orr Road. The vote was held Monday night in front of a packed courtroom consisting mostly of Hickory Withe area residents against the re-zoning… The application for the re-zoning was submitted by L & S Partnership who reported they were in negotiations to sell the property to the North Islamic Trust.”

Zoning Controversy Over Buddhist Temple in San Francisco

Source: The San Francisco Chronicle

On September 9, 2004 The San Francisco Chronicle reported, “religion is at the center of a classic San Francisco land-use fight, where a developer hires politically-connected permit consultant Walter Wong to gain approval for a much bigger building than would otherwise be allowed, while the foes tap Wong’s frequent nemeses, growth-control lawyers Sue Hestor and Stephen Williams. Wong’s client is a small Buddhist temple on Van Ness Avenue that wants to expand. The opponents include St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, whose leaders say the expanded temple will cast their stained glass windows in shadow… Church leaders and nearby condominium owners say the American Buddhist Cultural Temple, whose expansion proposal comes before the San Francisco Planning Commission today has failed to work with its neighbors to minimize negative impacts or given them enough information and time to respond to the development plans.”

Zoning Disputes Between Religious Groups and Local Governments Require Constitutional Standards

Source: The Seattle Times

On May 18, 2001, The Seattle Times published an opinion piece on the clash between the rights of religious groups to build houses of worship and the efforts of local governments to limit growth. “The Free Exercise Clause protects religious practice from governmental
interference but is limited by laws that are passed for compelling government
reasons…Federal courts have made notable shifts in the application of the
compelling-interest test, broadly applying this strict standard in some cases
but narrowing the scope in others…Without constitutional standards or framework that provides guidance for
policymakers and lower courts, the search for solid constitutional footing
appears to be an effort in futility.”

Zoning for Caledonia Buddhist Colony Backed by County Panel

Source: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On August 15, 2005 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “Members of the Racine County Economic & Land Use Planning Committee approved a petition on Monday that would keep the plan to build a Buddhist temple in Caledonia alive… The petitions have stirred a controversy among residents who believe the town should be reserved for residential use and say a Buddhist temple would attract too much traffic… Roughly 75 residents from Caledonia filed into the Ives Grove Complex Auditorium to voice their concerns. Planners had eyed that area for a conservation subdivision of single-family homes, which residents say would have contributed to the town’s tax base… Supporters of the Buddhist temple contend residents are uncomfortable with the proposed project because of personal prejudices.

Buddhists are interested in constructing a temple, meditation building, fellowship hall, Buddha building and facility for nuns on 13 acres… About a dozen Buddhists attended the meeting to introduce themselves to their possible neighbors and explain their plan to the community. Throughout the evening, they passed out information on Lao culture and explained that they need more room.”