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Construction of Sikh temple in Plainview expected to resume

Paul Kandhari, president of the Guru Gobind Singh

Paul Kandhari, president of the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center on Old Country Road in Plainview, addresses the Oyster Bay Town Board on March 15, 2016 in Oyster Bay Town Hall. In February, the town halted work on the construction of a new Sikh temple after neighbors complained about parking problems. The Sikh congregation wants to resume construction. Photo Credit: Newsday / Ted Phillips

Construction of a Sikh temple in Plainview is expected to resume after the Oyster Bay town board votes Tuesday on a settlement in a civil rights lawsuit.

The Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center in Plainview sued the town in June after the board and Town Supervisor John Venditto issued an executive order in February to halt construction and take over oversight from the planning and development department.

The settlement would end the lawsuit filed in U.S. Eastern District Court that alleged the town had violated the congregation’s religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.

Under a consent order, construction on the $3 million temple would resume and would reduce occupancy to 467—down from 1,127 as originally conceived by the project’s architect, Angelo Corva of West Hempstead. The revised plan would include 61 parking spaces—down from 72 in the most recent plan, according to the consent order.

The temple would also add landscaping and lower lights to reduce the visual impact of the temple and venting to reduce odors from cooking drifting into residential areas.

“We believe the settlement is fair and equitable,” said the congregation’s attorney Paul Savad of Nanuet-based Savad Churgin LLP. “They had their existing temple which they received a building permit to knock down and build a new temple … and when they’re 78% done, the town stops them.”

Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said the settlement was “fair and just.”

“Whenever you’re dealing with religious use abutting up against residential … there’s a struggle and the emotions run high,” Alesia said.

Several residents, however, said Monday they want the board to delay the vote until they’ve had a chance to review the plans.

“We felt left out. We haven’t seen any modified plans,” said Mira Lim, a stay-at-home mother who lives on Hope Court, a street adjacent to the temple. “There’s so many questions unanswered.”

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