The continued its consideration of a plan from the International Society for Krishna Consciousness to construct a Hare Krishna temple at the intersection of Baldwin and Troy roads at its Wednesday night meeting at Town Hall. The plan the board heard about, however, was a significantly changed one.
Nicholas Gakos, a landscape architect speaking on behalf of ISKCON, revealed new plans for the proposed landscaping of the property. The changes would obscure the temple—as well as any light and traffic impacts—from neighboring homes in what is primarily a residential area.
“We’re given a good shot with the canopies with a 16- to18-foot range to deal with all of the concerns, from the temple’s point of view and an adjacent, off-site point of view,” Gakos said.
In addition to the plant life that already exists on the site, Gakos’ revised landscaping plan calls for new plant life of different varieties—shrubs, hedges and both evergreen and non-evergreen trees alike—to be strategically planted on the site in order to reduce an impact to the surrounding area.
However, Gakos cautioned that the ability of the landscaping to totally eliminate the impact of the site may take some time to develop, as many of the plants—namely, the trees—will not be fully-grown when they are planted.
“Ultimately, there’s a growth rate in the landscape. These are major trees that will grow to 60- to 80-feet tall and stay upright and columnar,” Gakos said. “Over a period of time, I would love to see the temple in a sea island where it’s existing on its own, but the landscape proposal may not achieve that off the bat.”
Also making adjustments to the site plan was architect Yogesh Mistry, who has recently been retained to continue working on the project as its new architectural expert.
Mistry told board members that the proportions of the building have decreased from a vertical perspective to stay within mandated limits and to better fit in with the character of the surrounding community.
“We are within the 35-foot height limitation of the main part of the building, and the 50-foot limit for the main spire,” Mistry said. “When you reduce the height, everything reduces proportionately. The mass of [the building] goes down as [does the] height of it, and visual impact is reduced.”
A digital rendering of the building depicted what the temple is projected to look like if one were to view the front entranceway from Troy Road. The rendering showed a white base color and did not account for the landscaping proposed to be added to the area.
“If you actually show the correct landscaping, you probably wouldn’t see much of the front [from Troy Road],” Mistry said.
The efforts of the ISKCON-commissioned professionals to reduce overall impact of the proposed temple on the surrounding neighborhoods and historic landmarks were not lost on representatives of the township’s Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, who noted that they were pleased with the changes.
“The landscape plan is a much better plan than what was presented last time, because they’re putting in larger trees initially,” said Nancy Brighton, who chairs the committee. “With more trees, more will be covered at different levels of the building, at least during the spring to early fall months.”
She noted that the building will be a natural color that will help it blend in with its background.
Brighton and others on the committee, however, still believe that there is room for improvement before the project is finalized.
“There’s still a discussion or concern about the mass of the building for that site, because it’s still a very large structure in what is a residential area,” she said.
After time ran out at Wednesday night's meeting, the ZBA members agreed to hear other witnesses associated with ISKCON's application at its July 11 meeting.