Smaller Gwinnett County Hindu Temple Faces More Zoning Problems Than Larger Lilburn Temple

June 18, 2006

Source: 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."