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Planning Commission votes 7-3 to recommend denial of temple permit

“It’s time for us to have our own temple, our own monk, a place where we can gather together and keep our own religions alive."

Min Zaw, president of Sirimingalar Dhamma Center, speaks during Wednesday's meeting of the Nobles County Planning Commission.
Min Zaw, president of Sirimingalar Dhamma Center, speaks during Wednesday's meeting of the Nobles County Planning Commission.
Kari Lucin / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON — The Nobles County Planning Commission voted 7-3 Wednesday to recommend denying a conditional use permit to the Sirimingalar Dhamma Center, whose members had hoped to turn a rural acreage into a place of worship that would eventually include a temple.

Min Zaw, president of Sirimingalar Dhamma Center, Sean Naing, its secretary, and Su Su Pyo spoke on the Center’s behalf, talking about the needs of its 35 families.

“It’s time for us to have our own temple, our own monk, a place where we can gather together and keep our own religions alive,” Naing said.

Multiple people spoke out against the permit or wrote to the Commission with objections, citing increased traffic on township gravel roads that could become a safety issue and incur additional costs, an inadequate septic system that was supposed to be dealt with by a previous property owner as well as proximity to feedlots and other issues.

County Attorney Joe Sanow spoke with the Planning Commission about First Amendment-related issues that could come up should the permit be denied, suggesting that the Commission would need to make detailed findings as to what substantial government interest had prompted the denial and why no alternative allowing the group to worship on the site was possible.

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Two people on the Planning Commission had ideas for alternative sites for the Sirimingalar Dhamma Center and expressed hope that they could speak with its representatives at some point following the meeting.

The matter will go before the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for a final decision at its next meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

A more detailed story will be posted as it becomes available.

READ MORE FROM KARI LUCIN

A 1999 graduate of Jackson County Central and a 2003 graduate of Augsburg College, Kari Lucin started writing for newspapers in Minnesota and North Dakota in 2006. During her time as a reporter, she covered beats including education, watershed, county and agriculture, and frequently wrote about health and science. She has also served as an online content coordinator and an engagement specialist at various Forum Communications properties. She was a marketing assistant at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville for two years, where she did design work in addition to writing and social media management.

Lucin is currently a community editor with the Globe of Worthington.

Email: klucin@dglobe.com
Phone: (507) 376-7319
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