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Residents will have chance to voice concerns about proposed temple near Cumming
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CUMMING -- A proposed Hindu temple in east Forsyth is causing a stir among some neighbors, and they will have a chance to voice their concerns next week.

According to Forsyth County documents, the proposed temple would total 11,200 square feet and include 113 parking spaces and a priest’s residence on about 7.7 acres on Pilgrim Point Road and Mercedes Drive.

The temple would require a conditional use permit under county rules, and a public participation meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Friday, July 29 at 5325 Pilgrim Point Road.

Some neighbors said they feel the facility would not match the rest of the neighborhood.

“I think the big concern is the traffic,” said Jennifer Davie, who lives nearby. “That neighborhood is a really cute neighborhood; it’s really small. The streets are narrow, and it’s a true neighborhood. It’s also full of very small homes.”

Davie said she also didn’t believe the size of the building would conform to county development standards and said she hoped that would be addressed at the meeting.

She also expressed concerns over tree removal and light and noise pollution.

Stuart Teague – who is representing applicant Sumalatha Satoor and Sailak LLC – said that the area was appropriate and that most religious facilities are near homes.

“Churches are located in residential areas throughout the county; it’s part of the way that the [unified development code] is drafted,” he said. “You actually want to have religious facilities within the community and the neighborhoods as opposed to on major thoroughfares.”

Teague said the facility would host about 100 families or 400 total visitors and would only have religious uses. He also noted it would likely be August or September before the permit went before the county’s planning board.

He said some opponents have mischaracterized the temple as a mosque and that he has received threats for representing the facility.

“We have gotten some very hateful responses as a consequence of that,” Teague said. “We had one guy come into our office and threaten to burn our houses down and destroy our reputations for representing the temple, which I find to be absolutely beyond the scale of acceptable behavior.”

Teague said he does not intend to be intimidated.

Davie said she has also seen rude comments online over the issue but that it was not the focus of most neighbors’ concerns.

“We’re just concerned about the traffic,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a temple or not – it doesn’t bother me – but it’s not supposed to be that big.”

Susan Sanner of the nearby Shady Shores homeowners association said in a statement that members have read the filing, will attend the meeting and will consult independent advisors to help them evaluate all aspects following the meeting.

“It is important for us to fully understand the scope of this proposed project, and although the owner has a lovely vision we must evaluate the potential impact on our community,” she said, “particularly in the areas of traffic and safety.”