The Radha-Krishna temple operates out of a nearly century-old mansion in the Towaco section of Montville. ISKCON of New Jersey has owned and worshipped at the location for the past 30 years, but followers and temple leaders say it no longer meets their needs. The temple is the only one in northern New Jersey and draws about dozens of worshippers each week.
PARSIPPANY — After four years in zoning limbo, the proposed Hare Krishna temple at the intersection of Troy and Baldwin Roads has received approval from the township zoning board.
The International Society of Krishna Consciousness of New Jersey received unanimous approval Wednesday for a use variance for the site despite opposition by neighbors.
“We’re pleased and excited with the board’s favorable decision,” said Robert Garofalo, ISKCON’s attorney. “It’s been a long hard process and the board deserves credit for its patience and active involvement. The temple will be an asset to the community.”
Since 2009, the Montville-based group has proposed building its temple near Smith Field Park, but neighbors’ concerns and zoning issues have repeatedly delayed the project.
In 2010, ISKCON of N.J. reduced the size of the proposed project due to neighbors’ concerns regarding the volume of worshipers, the Star-Ledger reported at the time.
For the past 30 years, ISKCON of N.J. members have made do with a nearly century-old Towaco mansion as their temple, but the maintenance and upkeep of the mansion prompted temple leaders to pursue a new temple designed to meet their needs, Madan Gopal das, an initiate temple priest, told NJ.com in October. “Das” and “dasi” are the respective titles for male and female priests in ISKCON.
Parsippany is a prime location for the new temple because about 40 percent of the congregation is based in the township, Madan Gopal das said. Eighty-five percent of the congregation is Indian or of Indian descent, but many Indians who come to the temple do so more to reconnect with their culture than strict belief in the tenets of ISKCON, he said.
Garofalo, who is seeking a use variance for the site, has said neighbors near the property have provided the most vocal opposition and sought to delay the project.
Garofalo said his clients have tried to accommodate neighbors’ concerns as much as possible by including a foliage buffer around the front of the property to shield the proposed parking lot from view in their application. The proposed temple would be set back 50 feet from the front of the property line to allow for a parking lot in the front yard, he said.
Attorney Gary Hall, who represents the Kimball family, has said his clients own a house across the street from the site of the proposed temple and have objected to the application. Hall declined to comment on the board’s Nov. 6 decision.
Zoning board chairman Robert Iracane previously told NJ.com that ISKCON of N.J. made “numerous concessions” since its initial proposal including the addition of the foliage buffer.
Zoning board secretary Harriet Jacobs said the board instructed Garofalo on Nov. 6 to prepare a resolution, which will then be submitted to the board.
Once the board approves the resolution and finalizes the project, building can commence, Garofalo said.
Jacobs said it’s unlikely the resolution will be presented to the board before the end of the year, because the next meeting is in early December.