Virginia Beach monks seek to keep temple location

Canada East, August 20, 2008

VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (USA) -- A group of Buddhist monks could lose permission to use a $1-million brick ranch home as their temple.

In a 6-4 vote last week, Virginia Beach Planning Commissioners recommended that the monks shut down the Buddhist Education Center of America Inc. in rural Virginia Beach.

The City Council will take up the issue next.

The monks had requested a two-year extension to a permit that was issued last August that allowed worship services in the house. The master Buddhist monk lives there, along with some younger monks, and worshippers come there on Sundays and for three celebrations during the year.

The monks have tried to find a new location for the master's house and temple, but say they could not find anything suitable. Selling the home in the current real estate market is almost impossible, said Morris Fine, a lawyer representing the monks.

Most residents said they had no problem with the monks, but some said the traffic that the worship services brings to the neighbourhood is a problem.

Monk Thich Chuc Thanh said he and the others are happy at their current location.

After moving from the Kempsville area two years ago because of a road project, Thanh said they dread having to move again.