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Sikhs tell Oyster Bay that work on their temple was stopped unfairly

Members of the Sikh community expressed concern before the Oyster Bay town board on Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2016, over the board's decision last month to suspend an approved site plan for a Sikh temple in Plainview. (Credit: Newsday/Chris Ware)

Members of a Sikh temple under construction in Plainview voiced concerns Tuesday over Oyster Bay’s halting of building on the site.

About two dozen Sikhs came to the town board meeting to speak to the board or to support speakers.

On Feb. 2, the Town Board took review of the temple site plan out of the hands of the town Planning and Development department following complaints by residents over parking and traffic.

That move surprised the congregation of the Guru Gobind Singh Sikh Center on Old Country Road whose members said they had worked with former Commissioner of Planning and Development Frederick Ippolito to resolve parking issues.

“We got blindsided,” Gurmeet Sodhi, 41, a television producer from Northport, told the board. Sodhi said the town board halted construction without informing the congregation.

“Everything was approved, everything was moving along; why did we stop this?” she said.

Construction on a new $3 million temple on the site of the old one began in 2014 but was halted last July on the grounds that it didn’t comply with an off-street parking plan. That 2015 stop work order was subsequently lifted.

Town Supervisor John Venditto said the town was looking for a compromise between the Sikh community and neighboring residents “to make the project fit.”

“There’s a sense in the community that maybe this project is too big,” Venditto said. “There’s concerns about traffic and concerns about parking.”

Concerned neighbors addressed the board about traffic and parking issues at meetings in December and earlier this month.

Councilwoman Rebecca Alesia said the original plan had called for 136 parking spaces. Revised plans shown to Newsday that congregants said had been verbally agreed upon by Ippolito show 72 parking spaces.

“Clearly it was meant to be either added to the plan or acquired across the street and I know revisions were requested,” Alesia said.

Alesia said she was not aware of a new plan being filed with the town.

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