weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Plans for Hindu temple in Henderson move forward despite opposition

Despite the opposition of some residents, development of a Hindu temple in a rural Henderson neighborhood is “moving fast,” according to the project’s architect.

Simona Stephens, project architect with Suzana Rutar Architect Ltd., said a civil engineer is already on board and the approval for the project’s civil engineering is estimated to take about a year. The plan after that is to focus construction on one structure in the complex at a time.

The American Hindu Association has proposed building a Hindu temple near Berlin Avenue and Lisbon Street in a neighborhood designated as a Rural Neighborhood Protection Area. That designation allows governing bodies to adopt zoning regulations and restrictions to “maintain the character” of rural neighborhoods.

The Henderson Planning Commission approved the proposal in August, but many residents of the neighborhood appealed the decision to the Henderson City Council.

The council voted 4-1 on Oct. 4 to deny the appeal while setting conditions for the temple to limit parking spaces for the temple to 63, provide a 6-foot wall around the outside of the temple and undergo a mandatory review of the building by the council one year after certificate of occupancy. The lone vote against the decision came from Councilwoman Michelle Romero.

Despite the vote, supporters of the appeal haven’t give up. A Facebook post to their group, called Save Section 4 RNP, said, “(The) next step is judicial review.” Autumn Hood, the group’s treasurer, said Save Section 4 RNP has already begun filing a petition to appeal the decision to a judge.

Many neighbors around the site of the temple supported the appeal and made their voices heard at the council meeting last month.

“I don’t think it belongs here,” resident Debbie Varley, 65, told the Review-Journal.

Varley said she’s lived in the neighborhood for over 30 years, but now she and her husband are considering moving because of recent projects in the area and the planned temple.

She and other neighbors said they oppose the temple because it will bring more traffic and ruin the current quiet, rural feel of their neighborhood.

“We’re in a residential neighborhood; it’ll cause a lot of traffic,” said April Brooks, 44.

Brooks and other neighbors said that they wouldn’t oppose the temple if it were along a major street or on commercial land, instead of residential land.

“I don’t think any of us would mind a church on Lake Mead,” said Brooks, “but not up here in residential.”

Other residents support the construction of the temple and questioned the objections raised by the residents of the neighborhood.

“I don’t think having a temple would be much more traffic than normal holidays,” Aric Weishan said during the council’s public comment period.

“I think they’ll find that this will not impact the rural aspect of the neighborhood,” Weishan said. “In fact I think it’ll enhance it.”

Satish Bhatnagar, the 82-year-old president of the American Hindu Association, said multiple churches are “within a couple of hundred yards” of where the proposed temple is set to be built.

“Henderson is known as a city of parks and urban trails. Would you like it also known (as) where some of its residents do not want to include Hindus and their place amidst their neighborhood, who do not want to diversify the places of worship, and who are not equitable when their actions count?” Bhatnagar said in a statement prepared for the council meeting.

Despite the contentiousness of the project, Bhatnagar praised the council for how it handled the issue.

“After listening to all the speakers for three hours, the council openly deliberated with inputs from their legal counsel and city manager. I was really impressed with this transparent process,” Bhatnagar said.

Contact Mark Credico at mcredico@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarkCredicoII.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.