County clears Sikh temple
Work will begin in about two weeks at the site of a new temple following approval by Sutter County supervisors, a spokesman for the Guru Nanak Sikh Society said Wednesday.
Supervisors approved a conditional use permit Tuesday night without debate. The decision followed an August ruling in favor of the society by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Society spokesman Sukhcharan Singh said contractors will begin converting a house to a temple accommodating 75 people on the 29-acre site at 1298 South George Washington Blvd. A parking lot and restrooms will be added, he said.
Plans call for a full-size temple to be built on the site, with work possibly beginning in two or three years, he said.
The plans have been on hold for the past four years while the society mounted legal challenges to the board's refusal to approve two different sites for the temple, said Singh.
When the society prevailed in U.S. District Court, the county appealed to the higher court but lost again.
After the appeals court ruling, supervisors said they would not further challenge the society but accused courts of interfering in land use decisions.
The court ruled that the board's rejection of the two sites amounted to interference with the Sikhs' right to practice their religion.
No neighbors of the South George Washington Boulevard site spoke against the Sikhs' plans at Tuesday's public hearing.
Singh said he appreciated moral support from the community during the long dispute and, after the meeting, handshakes from supervisors.
SUTTER COUNTY STRUGGLE
2001: Sutter County supervisors reject plans by Guru Nanak Sikh Society for temple on 1.89 acres on Grove Road south of Yuba City.
April 2002: Society proposes temple on 29 acres of agriculturally-zoned land at 1298 South George Washington Blvd. County planners recommend approval; some neighbors object.
May 2002: Supervisors reject plan, calling it leapfrog development that would not fit in agricultural area.
August 2002: Guru Nanak Sikh Society files lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Sacramento claiming civil rights violation.
November 2003: Court rules in society's favor.
December 2003: Supervisors vote unanimously to appeal to 9th U.S. Court of Appeals.
August: Appeals court rules for Sikhs.
September: Supervisors approve plan for temple.
October: Construction slated to begin.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Rob Young can be reached at 749-4710. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.