Buddhist temple may host more worshippers

by Roman Gokhman, San Joaquin News Service, Dec 4, 2005

STOCKTON, CA (USA) -- A depleted team of county planning commissioners Thursday allowed a Buddhist association to squeeze more people into their place of worship in Stockton, but for a small fee.

With Pat Stockar and Christopher Eley absent, the remaining commissioners voted, 3-0, in favor of the Wat Dhammararam Buddhist Temple.

The 5,000-square-foot temple, on Carpenter Road and near Highway 99, was previously allotted for no more than 249 people. Temple leaders wanted that number to get bumped to 499 people, without building any new structures.

Before making a decision, the county and the California Department of Transportation wanted a traffic study to be done to determine whether nearby roads could handle more traffic from increased temple attendance.

Seven intersections were analyzed to find how much more traffic would be brought in by increased attendance on a weekly basis and the effects of an estimated surge of 1,200 people who would visit the temple during the Cambodian New Year.

The study determined that the Buddhist association should pay 2 percent of the cost of putting a signal at the intersection of Mariposa Road and southbound Hwy 99 ramp ? about $1,300.

It also said that the association should be 5 percent of the cost ? about $3,070 ? of putting a signal at the intersection of Mariposa Road and Hwy 99 East Frontage Road.

In addition, temple officials will also have to maintain 165 paved parking spaces ? six of them handicap accessible ? and 335 unpaved parking spaces; in the event of overflow parking during religious holidays. They will also be responsible for some road work in the area.