Planners give go-ahead to Hindu temple


MARLBORO – A new and authentic Hindu temple was granted approval by the Planning Board on Feb. 6.

With municipal approval in hand the Hindu American Temple and Cultural Center, Wooleytown Road, will have two new buildings constructed on a 33-acre site: a 32,596-square-foot two-story temple and multi-purpose hall, and a 15,170- square-foot two-story residence for priests.

Attorney Jonathan Heilbrunn represented the applicant before the board.

Testimony for Hindu temple was first heard on Sept. 19. At that meeting Dr. Mani Yegnasubramanian, who serves as an honorary adviser for several temples in the United States and Canada, spoke about how the features in the proposed building would meet scripture requirements.

The Hindu American Temple and Cultural Center’s current structure does not meet certain scripture mandates, according to information presented at the September meeting.

Since the Planning Board subsequently reorganized for 2008, new members of the panel were provided with transcripts of the applicant’s previous testimony. Their review of the transcripts made the new members of the board eligible to vote on the application at the appropriate time.

One of the key issues stemming from previous testimony concerned parking for the facility. In order to calculate the number of parking spaces the square footage where worshippers could be present was required to be provided. The temple will be on the upper level, which has 16,115 square feet, but not all of that space will be accessible to worshippers due to scripture mandates, according to the testimony.

The applicant’s architect, Kishor Joshi, explained that only 6,359 square feet would be open to the public.

Board members were concerned with the amount of traffic that may come to the temple on festival days. A study was not conducted regarding the festival days.

Board member Elvera Fernandez noted that since the closest temple of this nature is in Bridgewater, Somerset County, worshipers might come to Marlboro and cause the temple’s present membership to increase.

As part of the application’s approval, 225 parking spaces will go in initially, with additional banked (non-paved) parking bringing the total to 271 parking spaces. The board required that parking be monitored and when 80 percent was in use the banked parking must be made permanent (paved). There was also a third phase of parking that could be used in the future should the need arise.

Vice Chairman Gerald Bergh said he wanted it to be made clear to the applicant that as soon as the need for that banked parking to be used was determined that it was to be done.

“The sense of the board is that there should not be any opportunities to cause any distress to the people who live on Texas and Wooleytown roads with overflow (parking),” Bergh said.

Board members then voted 9-0 to approve the application for the construction of the two buildings. Members of the temple who were present applauded the board’s approval