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County supervisors give Buddhists approval to build new Modesto temple

The Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors unanimously overturned a planning commission decision and granted a use permit for a Buddhist temple on Grimes Avenue west of Modesto.

The action came after about three hours of debate between neighbors who opposed the temple location and supporters of the Buddhist congregation.

The use permit for the temple, to be located on about 11.5 acres at 1538 Grimes Avenue, was turned down by the planning commission on Aug. 21 on a 5-2 vote. Representatives for the WAT Cambodian Church appealed that decision, and made concessions, including the removal of a number of the buildings originally proposed.

Neighbors on Grimes and Ohio objected to increasing traffic in the area on roads that they said were already too narrow and prone to flooding. They also cited conflicts with farming in the area.

Proponents said the temple typically generates 10 to 15 cars per day, and would only draw large crowds during two festival events a year. Some speaking in favor of the temple suggested that racism or religious bias was behind some of the opposition.

Opponents said that the issue was land use, not race or religion.

Supervisors noted that the Buddhists had met all the requirements for the use permit. The property is in an urban transition area that is part of Modesto’s sphere of influence, and the city has no objection to it, they said.

The board voted to require additional landscaping along the north side of the property to screen it from farm property.

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