In a recent meeting of the Piscataway Township Zoning Board, several applications were approved, and significant progress was made on the proposed establishment of a Hindu temple at the site of a former flower shop. Also, concerns were raised about the soil collected in storm drains and the condition of these drains.
The proposed Hindu temple, represented by attorney Jim Stall and the international organization AVYOO, was the highlight of the meeting. Stall indicated that the temple’s design has undergone multiple revisions to address concerns and minimize its size. He emphasized that the temple would not only serve as a religious facility but also provide resources for community service including vaccination drives, yoga, and stress management sessions. During high holidays, crowd management will be ensured through a timed ticket system to avoid congestion.
The temple will also feature a cooking kitchen for priests and a social hall for small social events and discussions. No external sounds will indicate worship times, and all activities, including a small courtyard procession, will be conducted within the building. The temple administration confirmed that they would notify the police department in advance of quarterly festivals to avoid traffic-related concerns.
The temple structure will include two buildings, with the main one housing exhibition halls, classrooms, prayer halls, and living quarters for the priests. The second building, less elaborate than the first, is planned for multipurpose use. Nal Zjhaveri, an architect, explained that the buildings would feature a monolithic beige stone or stucco appearance with Indian architectural elements. Variance requests have been made for building height and site area, considering the environmental restrictions on the property.
The board considered the parking requirements for the temple, which were discussed by Jay Trout, a traffic engineer. The plan includes 168 parking spaces, with the possibility of introducing landbank parking for future needs. Edward Coing, a professional planner, argued that the 5.6-acre property, which exceeded the maximum permitted lot area of 5 acres, should be considered within the context of wetlands and buffers, resulting in a functional lot area of 4.2 acres. The building is set back from neighboring properties, further minimizing any potential impact.
Several applications were approved during the meeting, including those from Walter Hernandez and Tarsilla Lopez, John Mano, and Mohammad Elashi. However, an application from USA Inc, represented by Mr. Patel, could not proceed due to a lack of quorum. After some technical difficulties, Mr. Patel was able to join the meeting and present his application.
The board members also discussed the soil collected in storm drains and their current condition, raising concerns about their maintenance. Questions about project cost estimates and the lack of transparency in the budgeting process were also raised, with clarifications provided on the state law requirements for not-to-exceed amounts and the use of quotes and bids to determine actual costs.