Hindu group sues Chesco town over denial of temple

    A group hoping to build a Hindu temple in Chester County says its constitutional rights are being violated. The Hindu congregation, ACMEC of North America, has filed a federal lawsuit against West Pikeland Township. But township officials say they aren’t discriminating against the group, but instead trying to enforce zoning laws.

    A group hoping to build a Hindu temple in Chester County says its constitutional rights are being violated. The Hindu congregation, ACMEC of North America, has filed a federal lawsuit against West Pikeland Township. But township officials say they aren’t discriminating against the group, but instead trying to enforce zoning laws.

    Listen:
    [audio: 090421lfhindu.mp3]

    The religious group wants to build a 26,000-square-foot temple, as well as a 9,000-square-foot auxiliary building that they’ve offered to make smaller. The congregation is part of a specific Hindu sect that has about 60 families within 100 miles of the site.

    University of Pennsylvania City and Regional Planning professor Tom Daniels says any big project, Hindu Temple or not, has its own set of potential problems.

    Daniels: With a building of 26,000-square-feet you’re obviously going to have some storm water run off issues. Depending on how many people come to the temple, there could be some traffic issues.

    A federal law passed in 2000 called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act made it harder for local governments to use zoning laws to deny building plans from churches and other religious institutions.

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