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Bridgewater Courier News
FRANKLIN (Somerset) – Two Hindu temples are proposed within a half mile of each other on South Middlebush Road.
The township’s zoning board is scheduled next month to hear the applications of Dada Bhagwan Vignan Institute and Sai Datta Mandir to build the temples on either side of South Middlebush Road near Jacques and Cortelyous lanes.
Dada Bhagwan Vignan Institute, 630 South Middlebush Road, is proposing to build a 21,083-square-foot house of worship on a 15.96-acre lot on the eastern side of the road, several hundred feet south of Cortelyous Lane. The existing two-story home will remain on the property as a residence for clergy.
A variance is needed because the property, a third open field and two-thirds wooded, is located within an agricultural zone. Plans call for 88 trees to be removed, but 107 new trees will be planted.
A variance is also needed for parking – 157 spaces are proposed while 457 spaces are required, based on the worship area of 6,684 square feet. A traffic study indicates there will be 75 to 100 people attending services on three Saturdays a month from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., 125 to 140 attendees on one Saturday a month between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and 50 to 75 attendees on one Sunday a month between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Twice a year there will be 200 to 250 people visiting the site between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. on a Saturday and Sunday.
Across the street, at 583 South Middlebush Road, Sai Datta Mandir is proposing a 28,970-square-foot house of worship on a vacant 24.83-acre lot, several hundred feet south of Jacques Lane.
The house of worship, about half the size of a football field, will contain a sitting area for prayer as well as areas for a warming kitchen, dining area and gift shop.
A use variance is needed because the lot is also in an agricultural zone. The plan calls for 203 parking spaces when 149 are required based on the size of the 2,226-square-foot prayer hall.
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According to a traffic study, the busiest times at Sai Datta Mandir will be different than those at Dada Bhagwan Vignan Institute. The traffic study states the busiest time will be when services are held on Thursday evenings when about 30 people are expected to come to the site.
Both sites are also within the township’s Middlebush Road Scenic Corridor and both applications must comply with the requirements of the corridor regulations.
The virtual meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1.
Mike Deak is a reporter for MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.
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