FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – On Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors approved a Sikh temple and community center to be built on the west side of Brawley Avenue, north of Olive.
They appealed a decision by the planning commission on June 10 that had rejected the application.
Supervisor Bryan Pacheco, who represents the area where the temple will be built, said he was surprised that the planning commission voted against the proposal, and the fact that no neighbors or community members showed up to Tuesday’s meeting to voice their opposition made the appeal an obvious choice.
Supervisor Nathan Magsig said he’s heard that a letter was sent by the California Department of Fish and wildlife, suggesting mitigation measures if the project moves forward to protect those Swainson’s hawks species.
However, he said the letter was not in opposition to the project, and it’s unclear if it was a factor in the planning commission‘s decision.
Rather, it seems planning commissioners were more concerned about the metal exterior of the building and the possibility of people coming from out of town to attend the temple.
“The appearance of the outside of the building was one thing that was a concern to some of the members, or the commission members, but the inside of the building is going to be fully articulated, fully finished out. It’s going to represent a Sikh facility,” said Michael Dhanens, an architect for the project.
The temple and community center will serve about 50 Sikh families, mostly from the Fresno area.
Gurpreet Mann from the Sikh Institute said gathering places like this are instrumental for the Sikh community, especially in Fresno county, which she said is home to about 15,000 to 18,000 Sikh people.
“We have a larger Sikh diaspora here in the Central Valley, and a lot of new people are moving here as well, because they feel at home here,” said Mann.