Krishna temple plan nets partial approval

Catonsville Times/January 8, 2003
By Marcia Ames

Despite a local plea for postponement, Baltimore County 's Development Review Committee granted conditional approval on Monday for plans to build a 200-seat Hare Krishna temple in Catonsville .

The ruling will allow the International Society for Krishna Consciousness' Baltimore chapter to proceed under a limited exemption from county development review procedures - which was granted in 1998 when ISKCON proposed an expansion to its existing temple at 200 Bloomsbury Ave.

"They'll be able to proceed as (an) exemption by re-filing a development plan with the county," said Don Rascoe, DRC chairman. "But they will need to seek zoning approval."

Because the current plan calls for demolition of the temple and construction of a new one on site, it must be reviewed by the zoning commissioner to determined whether or not previously granted zoning relief should be amended, Rascoe said.

No hearing date has been set for that zoning review.

For example, in the 1970s the county granted permission for as many as 10 or so people to live at the temple - an exception to county law which prohibits more than three un-related individuals from living together. Permission might be changed to allow for more or fewer tenants, if need be, Rascoe said.

About a dozen local residents attended the Jan. 6 DRC meeting, according to Paul Young, who appeared as a representative of the Bloomsbury Community Association. BCA asked that the committee postpone its decision for 90 days.

"We are opposed to (the plans)," he said, commenting after the meeting. "Our plan is to stop the building of this worship temple."

Young added that BCA was organized on Friday of last week as a means of fighting the development, and by Monday about 50 to 75 people had joined. He said the group had not hired a lawyer, but was considering the possibility.

Young said that BCA is concerned about the effect the proposed temple might have on property values, water and sewer facilities, and traffic.

According to documents filed with the county in November, ISKCON plans to build a two-story, approximately 11,230-square-foot domed temple that would face Bloomsbury Avenue , and a 55-space parking lot. The temple would accommodate about 200 people for worship, in addition to priests who would be living there.

Narsinghnath Pani, president of ISKCON, Baltimore, and head priest of the temple, said last month that the project would cost $800,000 to $900,000 and require several years to build.

The society has owned the approximately one-acre, residentially zoned property and used the existing house as a temple since 1975.

"Churches are (allowed by right) in all (residential) zones," said Rascoe, commenting on opposition to the plans. "It's a matter of right to have a temple there."

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