Buddhist temple gets OK to build new worship site

By Ivy Dai, Pasadena Star News Staff Writer, April 13, 2005

Officials negotiating with community

LOS ANGELES, CA (USA) -- After a contentious battle that spawned shoving matches between hundreds of protesters last year, the county Regional Planning Commission on Wednesday approved an eight-acre Buddhist temple in Rowland Heights.

<< Proposed location of Buddhist temple in Rowland Heights

"I felt excited,' temple member Vera Yeh said. "Can you believe it? We have been waiting for this for seven years.'

In 1998, The California Yuan Yung Buddhism Center in Los Angeles applied to relocate and build a new worship site at Fullerton and Pathfinder roads in Rowland Heights, but had to wait until a six-year moratorium on church-building was lifted.

Temple members will soon have a new sanctuary that includes 15 buildings with nearly 60,000 square feet, housing for 32 nuns and rooms for 30 quarterly-retreat visitors each year.

Temple officials hope to start construction in 2006. The temple is negotiating with nearby homeowners' associations to build another driveway on Pathfinder Road across from Pathfinder Park.

Community organizations want a stoplight installed at Fullerton and Pathfinder roads because it will alleviate park and temple traffic, as well as decrease the high number of fatal accidents at the intersection.

The Rowland Heights Community Coordinating Council initially planned to appeal the project, but later decided to enter negotiations with the temple instead, according to council President Mike Popovec.

Resident Simon Lu, who heads a group of about a dozen opponents to the projects, wants the main sanctuary building lowered and restrictions placed on out-of-town visitors to the temple.

"It's very unfortunate that this happened,' Lu said. "Because most of the residents are against it. The 50-foot building impacts a lot of visibility and cosmetics in the area.'

The deadline to file an appeal through the county Board of Supervisors is 15 days after temple officials receive notification of the decision, county Senior Planner Kevin Johnson said.

Commissioner Pat Modugno abstained from voting because he didn't attend one of the public hearings. Wednesday's vote was 4-0.

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