The Blaine City Council Dec. 6 unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the Thien An Buddhist Temple on University Avenue to build an 864 square-foot storage building.
Planning and Community Development Director Bryan Schafer told the council that the temple would not be increasing its seating capacity for services. The only thing the Thien An Buddhist Temple is doing is building a 24- by 36-foot storage shed.
Schafer said there was a lot of concern about parking availability raised at the Nov. 13 Planning Commission public hearing. The neighboring Alexandra House sent a Nov. 13 letter to Blaine’s planning department to voice its concerns about heavy congestion and how its parking lot entrance had been blocked at times.
Following the Nov. 13 meeting, Tai D. Nguyen from the Thien An Buddhist Temple sent a Nov. 19 letter to the city in which he said University Avenue Elementary School would allow overflow parking in its lot.
Thien said there are six major ceremonies in 2013 including New Year on Feb. 9-10, full moon upper highlands on Feb. 24, Buddha’s birthday on May 18, Vu Lan ceremony on Aug. 18 and ceremony relics of Buddha on Oct. 19.
However, Nguyen said others are allowed to borrow their facility for their religious holiday celebrations and there are times when monk teachers from all over the world will visit the temple, so there could be other major events besides the six specific events he mentioned.
According to Nguyen, if an unpredicted event comes up, they will let the city know about it at least 24 hours in advance.
Nguyen also in the letter that semi trucks coming to and from Alexandra House have cut through the temple’s parking lot and they had no problem with this up until now. He suggested posting no parking signs on the cul-de-sac to which the temple, Alexandra House, elementary school and King of Glory Lutheran Church have access so there would be no future complaints to the city.
Councilmember Mike Bourke lives nearby and watched the traffic flow during a recent day of worship. He saw no issues and thinks people can use common sense rather than the city imposing a mandate. No councilmember proposed placing any no parking signs.
Councilmember Kathy Kolb said that the temple should put up temporary signs during major events to inform people that overflow parking is available at University Avenue Elementary School.
Councilmember Dick Swanson suggested that leaders from the temple and Alexandra House sit down together to discuss concerns and if necessary they should bring in a mediator.
Eric Hagen is at email@example.com