ATTLEBORO — Plans for a Buddhist temple and ancillary buildings off Thurber Avenue enjoyed smooth sailing during their first public hearing.
At least 20 neighbors turned out Monday night for a planning council hearing on the proposal, and most seemed satisfied. A few even said, “Welcome to the neighborhood.”
The council met to review the site plan for a 5,000 square foot one-story temple; a 3,000 square foot single-storey columbarium, which is used for the placement of cremation urns; and a 2,000 square foot single-story tablet room, where deceased members of the temple are memorialized.
The development by the Braintree-based Tian Ann Temple is said to be set on approximately 3 acres of a 48-acre, mostly forested site which was last used as a farm in 1965.
A 170-year-old farmhouse on the site will be preserved.
Two people have raised concerns about the project.
One was Eric Jette, who lives at 792 South Main St., adjacent to the temple grounds.
He fears intruders will use part of his property to gain access to the temple property, which adjoins his backyard.
And Don Doucette of 219 Phillips St., a conservation advocate, said a small pond on the property is a vernal pool and needs to be protected.
Doucette, who grew up on the property when it was a farm, also worried about people turning left on Thurber to get to the temple.
Temple president Edward Lau said the lack of space at the Braintree Temple prompted the congregation to search for a site where they could build a columbarium and tablet room as well as a temple.
He said the 48-acre site is perfect because it’s a quiet place where members can pay their respects to the deceased and reflect on their own lives while also providing space for a temple where services can be held.
The temple will have 96 spaces and 34 parking spaces.
Lau said many temple members are vegetarians or vegans who oppose the killing of wildlife and their goal is to preserve the forested area as animal habitat.
George W Rhodes can be reached at 508-236-0432.