A proposed expansion to the Hindu temple on James Burgess Road received Forsyth County planning board approval Tuesday amid concerns from neighbors.
The Shirdi Sai Temple amended its sketch plat for future development on the 13.5-acre site to double the size of the planned multi-purpose hall, increase parking and remove two separate buildings that would have been the priest quarters and meditation hall.
The planning board voted 5-0 to recommend approval for the conditional use permit, and the county commission is scheduled to take the final vote May 16.
Architect Ishwar Dayabhai said the stream buffers on the property limit the temple’s options.
“About 70 percent of the lot is not buildable,” he said, “so the client is looking at optimizing the remaining buildable area.”
The multi-purpose hall would be about 22,000 square feet, instead of the originally proposed 10,000, and it would go next to the temple instead of north of it.
Adding to the existing temple of about 13,500 square feet and other small buildings, the total development would still total about 39,000 square feet due to the removal of other buildings in the original plan.
The concept plan states the multi-purpose hall would be two stories with parking below.
Dayabhai said parking on the site has been an issue and caused congestion to spill out into the road, so the new plan calls for 308 spaces instead of 211.
He felt this would alleviate traffic on James Burgess Road, but residents of the River Mist subdivision felt the expansion will only increase the number of vehicles.
Michael Wright said the issue isn’t the temple’s plans.
“I would oppose any development until the road is improved,” Wright said.
County staff said there are no plans to improve the road, but a temple of this size doesn’t require a traffic study.
Wright’s neighbor, Bob Kocerha, also expressed concern with the impact that new developments could have on water quality, especially the nearly parallel Chattahoochee River.
He pointed to a large senior housing development recently approved near the intersection with Buford Highway and a subdivision under construction next to Settles Bridge Elementary School.