In a unanimous decision, the Live Oak Planning Commission voted to grant a use permit to construct a new Sikh Temple on the east side of Larkin Avenue just north of the existing Landmark Missionary Baptist Church, following a public hearing on December 20th.
Suzanne Writh, of Live Oak, was the only citizen to voice concerns over the project at the meeting. She said she was not opposed to the project itself, but was concerned over traffic and aesthetics. Writh was concerned that the proposed project was not adhering to several city ordinances, including a fencing height requirements, parking issues, and visual massing problems.
City Planner Dennis Cook was able to explain that domes, spires and other similar aesthetics are not required to maintain the 30 foot maximum height requirement currently enforced in residential areas, therefore the additional 20 foot dome, and four smaller domes atop the building, will not be considered in violation of the ordinance. Other issues cited for the project also were explained through allowances in the City’s General Plan.
A traffic study was deemed unnecessary by both the state transportation agency, CalTrans, and the city engineer.
The new 28,780 square foot structure will contain a prayer hall, meeting hall, dining hall and a kitchen as well as priest and guest residences. Additionally, the new building will have nearly 300 parking spaces.
Adjustments have been made to keep the Heritage Oaks on the property and create an open space beneath them. Other modifications have been made to ensure orchard parking and a ten foot landscape strip between the parking lot and the neighboring parcel lots.
While the Temple is planned for a property within a residential neighborhood, Cook explained that it is common practice to allow places of worship to be built in residential zones.
He noted that the view is going to change from rural to urban as the property is currently an orchard, but that as the property is zoned as residential, it was only a matter of time before the landscape began to change.
Commissioner Robert Norton noted that the building would be a “welcome addition” as he initiated the motion that led to the unanimous vote. Following the vote, several congratulatory photos were taken amongst the attending residents. The vote is final, unless appealed to the City Council by the end of the month.
Writh said that the Planning Commission addressed her concerns in part and would not be appealing its decision to the Council.