Sikh congregants at a temple in Plainview and neighboring residents continued on Tuesday to talk to the Oyster Bay Town Board about resolving a dispute over parking and traffic.
Last month the Town Board halted construction on the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center on Old Country Road in response to complaints from residents that congregants’ cars were clogging Hope Court, a small street that includes temple property.
That move angered Sikh congregants who said they had followed the law and worked with town officials to get necessary town approvals for the project. Talks between congregants and town officials have been ongoing but a resolution has not been reached.
Deborah Weinstock, a chiropractor who lives next to temple property, told the town board that its involvement as well as the passage of a resolution halting construction had improved the situation.
“The constant parade of cars and vans … have been reduced considerably since you have become involved in our community’s concerns,” Weinstock told the board.
Weinstock said the board’s actions have reinstituted “the respect of individual property and to build a path to the restoration of dignity and decency toward our neighborhood.”
Last July, the town halted construction on the new $3 million temple on the grounds that it didn’t comply with an off-street parking plan. The congregation worked with town officials on a new parking plan and that stop work order was lifted, before the Town Board’s action last month.
Construction on the new temple site, which includes two adjacent residential homes used by the congregation, began in 2014. About twenty Sikhs came to the meeting Tuesday to speak or show support for resumption of construction.
“We are neighbors there too, we own homes there too,” temple president Paul Kandhari, 66, said to the board. “We have been good neighbors.”
Kandhari said the board’s actions were unfair and deprived 100s of families of their right to worship.
“We have done everything legally, we followed the code, we followed the law,” Kandhari said. “Then all of a sudden 80 percent, 90 percent of the work is done, at that point you come and tell me and my members … ‘okay we’re going to stop everything.’”
Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia praised the Sikh congregation and its contributions to the community and said the issue was strictly about parking.
“We are all interested in getting this done expeditiously and getting you back in the building so you can worship,” Alesia said.
Weinstock said that Steven Marx, Town Supervisor John Venditto’s executive assistant, informed her Tuesday she and a group called Concerned Citizens of Morton Village would be allowed to review building department documents next week in response to a Feb. 15 Freedom of Information Law request.
Newsday submitted a Freedom of Information Law request for the building department’s documents on the temple on Feb. 9. Town officials have not said when Newsday will be granted access.