Community planners hear more comments on Buddhist monastery expansion

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Gary Warth, North County Times, California: Proponents of a Buddhist meditation center proposed for Bonsall made one final pitch to a community advisory group Tuesday, but the project still seemed a tough sell to the board members.

“You want to work with the community?” Bonsall Community Sponsor Group member Mark Litner said to Frank Hoang, who represents the project. “I’m not feeling the love here of you trying to work with the community whatsoever.”

The meeting Tuesday was the second time in two weeks that the Sponsor Group, an advisory board to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, listened to public comments about a proposed three-building meditation center planned by the Vietnamese Buddhist Meditation Congregation for the Dai Dang Monastery off of Camino del Rey.

The Sponsor Group did not vote on the project Tuesday, but comments from individual members will be submitted to a county-required mitigated negative declaration, a document that describes why a proposed project would not have a significant impact on the environment.

About 10 Buddhist monks live at the monastery, which has operated for 10 years at 6326 Camino del Rey in Bonsall. The congregation hopes to expand the property, increasing the number of monks living at the site to 30. The number of people attending services on Sundays is expected to increase from about 100 to 300, and the congregation could hold four events a year that would each attract up to 1,000 people.

Residents near the monastery have expressed concerns that the center will be too large for the site and will increase traffic through the rural community.

Neighbors on Wrightwood Road to the north of the monastery said they are concerned that their street will be used as a second entrance to the property and that construction trucks will roll past their homes while the center is being built.

Hoang told the Sponsor Group that Wrightwood Road would not be used as an entrance to the meditation center, but said construction crews would have an option to use the road if they are willing to put up a bond that would pay for any damages they cause.

“That’s not acceptable,” a resident in the audience responded.

“What about peoples’ lives?” another said.

Public comments to the mitigated negative declaration will be accepted by the county until Feb. 11. County staff members then have three weeks to prepare the report for a public hearing that will be scheduled before the county Planning Commission. Any decision by the commission can be appealed to the county Board of Supervisors.

Hoang said that if the project is approved by the county, construction could begin by the end of the year. Asked after the meeting if he thought the county would approve the plans, Hoang said, “Our project is spotless.”

The Sponsor Group and several residents at the past two Bonsall meetings, however, had several objections to the project, including buses, possible ground contamination and portable toilets that would be placed within view of neighbors during large events.

Original article no longer available


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