Approval Granted For 29,000-Square-Foot Hindu Temple On South Middlebush Road

Engineer Jayesh Patel speaks to the Zoning Board at the June 2 hearing.

An application for a 29,000-square-foot Hindu temple on South MIddlebush Road was approved June 2 by the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

The approval for Sai Datta Mandir is the second one for a temple in that area within the last year. In October 2021, the Dada Bhagwan Vignan Institute won preliminary approval for a 21,000-square-foot temple practically across South Middlebush Road from the Sai Datta property.

Zoning Board members on June 2 heard from the applicant’s engineer, traffic expert and planner.

Jayesh Patel, the project’s engineer, told the Board that the rectangular-shaped temple will be located about 580 feet from South Middlebush Road and positioned so that a short end of the rectangle is facing the county road.

That orientation forced them to place some of the parking along one of the building’s sides, creating a need for a variance because parking is supposed to be behind a building.

That parking placement, Patel said, also placed the cars away from two single-family homes adjacent to the temple’s property.

Patel said that because of the placement and the existing and planned buffering along the road, drivers on South Middlebush Road will not be able to see the temple.

Stormwater will be collected in a 4-foot deep “wet basin,” Patel said. Any extra water wold be sent through an existing outflow pipe into the adjoining wetlands.

There will be 201 parking spaces, although only 196 are required by township ordinance, Patel said. He said that parking plan, developed ab out two years ago, will be modified to accommodate electric vehicle charging stations.

Testimony at the temple’s first hearing in May revealed that the temple would operate seven days a week between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and 5-9:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. on weekends.

The temple does not have set worship times, but, rather, has a “rolling audience” of congregants who come and go during the day.

On Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays, there could be between 20 and 30 congregants at the temple during the morning hours and 40-50 during evening hours, the Board was told in May.

One Wednesdays, between 20 and 30 congregants could visit the temple.

Thursdays could see between 40 and 50 congregants in the mornings and 150 to 200 in the evenings, the Board was told.

On Saturdays and Sundays the temple could see between 100 and 120 congregants in the morning and 100-150 in the evenings, the Board was told.

Brianna Kirchoff, the applicant’s traffic expert, said on June 2 that the maximum number of cars that could be at the site at any time would be 196. She said the temple does not anticipate having that many cars there at one time.

Kirchoff said her estimates were based on Thursday night attendance, and that her figures show that “when services are more intensive and more vehicles are expected to enter the site, the volume on South Middlebush is significantly less.”

The Board was told in May that the temple observes three main holidays: Ramnavimi, which this year was observed on April 10; Gurupurnima, which will be observed this year on July 13 and Vijayadashami, which will be observed this year on October 5. The observances are guided by the lunar calendar and change yearly.

Attendance at these festivals is expected to top at 350 people.

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