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Hindu Temple relocation approved in Nashua

Union Leader Correspondent

January 11. 2013 1:09AM

NASHUA -- Despite objections from neighbors, planning officials on Thursday approved the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire's proposal to relocate its facility to an old farmhouse along Broad Street.

Currently operating at 1 Progress Ave., the temple is in the process of purchasing property at 523 and 525 Broad St. near the Majestic Heights residential development. About 50 members of the religious organization attended Thursday's meeting before the Nashua City Planning Board where more than a dozen critics voiced opposition to the move.

"Everybody deserves to worship in their own way," said Kenneth Dufour, chairman of the Nashua City Planning Board. While Dufour said each religious group deserves their own home, he had numerous questions about the hours of operation for the temple and its classes for children.

Mony Subramony, spokesperson for the Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, described the temple's relocation as a great opportunity for the group.

The temple, according to its original plans, was set to be open weekdays from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. However, during testimony on Thursday, some devotees said there would be Saturday afternoon classes and additional hours during special religious holidays.

"I've never seen so much conflicting information ... I just don't know what to make of it," said Dufour.

While some members of the congregation said the temple community is growing and expanding, others said the membership is consistent, but the need for their own building is pressing.

The temple is currently renting its existing facility, but the new site on Broad Street will be acquired by the group.
According to plans filed at the city's Community Development Office, the Broad Street property is owned by Digital Federal Credit Union of Marlborough, Mass.

A red barn and a white office building now occupy the site. The office building, previously a farmhouse built in the early 1800's, will be used for religious instruction. The barn, which previously served as an antique store and later a neighborhood convenience shop, will serve as the temple, according to engineer Richard Maynard, representative for the religious group.

Several people stood to speak in opposition of the proposal, citing concerns about potential parking issues, emergency vehicle access, children safety near the street, adverse traffic impacts and the possibility of the group expanding.

Ben Daigle of 10 Majestic Ave. said he was worried that temple users would park their vehicles in his neighborhood during overflow prayer times.

"We just don't have the space for it, and we don't have the entrance for it," he said. "It is not designed for this (temple)."

Maynard argued that the existing use for the property is approved for a convenience store, explaining the real estate agent could sell the land to a store next month and the traffic could increase exponentially compared to the traffic generated from the 50-member Hindu community in Nashua.

"Everything that I heard tonight …. suggests that this is a relatively light use," said Adam Varley, planning board member.

Shortly after midnight -- following more than three hours of deliberation -- the board voted unanimously to approve the proposal and allow the site to be used for as a religious temple. Extended hours of operation were approved from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

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