Proposed Buddhist temple in Greenfield expected to draw opposition

By Annysa Johnson, The Journal Sentinel, Sept. 7, 2012

Greenfield, Wisconsin (USA) -- Plans to build a Buddhist temple in Greenfield are expected to draw neighborhood opposition when temple members go before the city's Plan Commission on Tuesday.

The Phuoc Hau Buddhist Temple, which has worshipped at 1575 W. Oklahoma Ave. for 15 years, wants to build an 8,100-square-foot temple on 1.5 acres at S. 44th St. and W. Edgerton Ave.

Temple vice president Tu Mai says theirs is a quiet, contemplative community.

"It's mostly meditation and praying; it's not a lot of noise and all of that to the neighors," he said.

But nearby residents complain that the building is too large for the site and that their narrow stretch of Edgerton could not carry the extra traffic.

"It's not that we don't want the Buddhists - what would be more peaceful?" said Leah Brueckner, who lives across the street from the proposed site.

"It's all about the space," she said. "We'd love to work with them to find a better place."

Phuoc Hau first proposed a temple at the site in 2010 but withdrew its application, in part because of neighborhood opposition.

Tuesday's Plan Commission meeting, starting at 6:30 p.m., is the first of several hurdles temple members would have to clear.

The $850,000 project would require the city to vacate a half-acre portion of S. 44th St., which would be combined with the acre the temple already owns. It would also require a change in zoning, from residential to institutional, and an amendment to the city's master plan.

Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke, who chairs the plan commission, did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Fifth District Ald. Shirley Saryan acknowledged the neighbors' concerns but declined to share her position on the project.

If approved, Mai said the temple would break ground in summer 2013, with completion in 2015.
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