Order seeks Buddhist temple in Voorhees

by William Sokolic, Courier-Post, October 7, 2014

Voorhees, New Jersey (USA) -- A Cambodian religious order will go before the Voorhees zoning board later this month seeking variances to build a Buddhist temple and community center along a sparse commercial stretch of Haddonfield-Berlin Road.

<< The Khmer Buddhist Humanitarian Association, a Cambodian religious order, is seeking variances to build a Buddhist temple and community center, as well as a meditation area with four gardens, on this lot at 1234 Berlin Road in Voorhees.(Photo: Douglas Bovitt/Courier-Post )

The Khmer Buddhist Humanitarian Association already has monks living on the site.

The proposal is for a 5,400-square-foot temple and 11,300-square-foot ceremonial accessory building, a meditation area with four gardens and the use of an existing home for the monks who live on the property.

The parcel includes the beginnings of a garden away from the roadway.

A use variance will go before the planning board first.

"Places of worship are not permitted on that site," said Zoning Board Solicitor Stuart Platt.

That the site is along a business district should help the Cambodian order's cause, according to association attorney Robert Baranowski.

"It's on a major road, as opposed to residential neighborhood, so it lends itself well to accommodate the use," he said. "It's not like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole."

The proposal also seeks height variances. They include a request for the temple to be just over 64 feet, 92 feet as measured to the top of the spire.

The proposed community building would be 49.7 feet high, and the entrance gate would exceed 44 feet. In each case, a maximum height of 35 feet is the current standard.

"The size of the structures is a function of their religious belief," Baranowski said of the Khmer Buddhist Humanitarian Association, adding that the proposal's cupola and spire should not be calculated within the height variance.

"We have an agreement that the board will consider the height variance to the top of the roof structure, which is 42 feet, only seven over the limit," he added.

"In the code book, height limitation does not apply to cupolas, domes or anything not for human occupancy."

The gate might be scaled back, Baranowski added, but the setback from the highway still needs to be finalized.

The hearing is set before the zoning board at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 23 at the Voorhees Town Center.

"Since the public needs to have its say, it may need another hearing to complete these variances," Platt noted.

If variances are approved, the order still will need to come in with a site plan, including stormwater management, lighting and landscaping, he added.

Baranowski is confident.

"I don't sense any controversy. I hope it stays on that track."

The site is just down the road from a mosque in Voorhees that faced anonymous objections from neighbors when it was proposed 10 years ago.

Voorhees Islamic Center is at the intersection of Lafayette Avenue and Haddonfield-Berlin Road and is currently expanding.

Baranowski said the mosque's location had no bearing on the proposed site of the temple.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB
Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv