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Sep 19, 2008

Uninformed planning decision

I was shocked, saddened and embarrassed by the decision of the Planning Commission to deny Cambodian Buddhists a land use permit ("Temple loses bid for site to grow," Aug. 22, Page B-1) for a new Temple on Grimes Road despite the recommendation of its own staff and positive input from fire, police and transportation agencies. The Planning Commission was swayed by a well-organized group opposing the project.

It was painfully obvious from quotes in The Bee that opponents are uninformed, or have been misinformed, about daily activities at a Buddhist temple. Specifically:

- Fireworks and alcohol are never allowed anywhere on temple grounds on any occasion. Buddhists do not attend weekly worship services, hold weddings or receptions at their temple, or operate a "Sunday school."

- A Buddhist temple is a very quiet place. Individuals visit the temple seeking quiet refuge.

- Cambodians hold only two major festivals a year at their temple. These festivities are not loud, nor do they extend into the night. Inadequate parking facilities at their current location on Paradise Road have caused traffic congestion during past festivals. The Buddhist Temple has outgrown its location.

- The proposed new facility has ample off-street parking for these events. The proposed temple building is situated in the middle of a 12-acre site, far from surrounding roads and adjacent properties.

This shameful decision is a black eye for Stanislaus County and will be appealed. I urge those opposed to the project to make an effort to visit the site, inform yourselves and make up your own minds. If you meet these people face-to-face as I have you will find them kind, gentle and sincere.

All they are seeking is the freedom to peacefully and quietly practice their religion and serve the needs of our community.

MICHAEL PULLEN

Modesto

Editor's note: The Stanislaus Board of Supervisors has scheduled a public hearing on the Wat Cambodian Buddhist temple for 9:15 a.m. Sept. 30.

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