A proposed Tibetan Buddhist temple in Westminster hoping to promote peace and harmony is the source of recent tension in the community. Residents of the surrounding suburban neighborhood expressed …
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A proposed Tibetan Buddhist temple in Westminster hoping to promote peace and harmony is the source of recent tension in the community.
Residents of the surrounding suburban neighborhood expressed concern at a Feb. 16 community meeting about architecture and noise emanating from the meditation center. In response, city staff sought to allay certain concerns and explain the temple wouldn’t be much different than if a Christian church was going there.
Westminster City Council approved a preliminary plan for the Mipham Shedra Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center in January 2020. The Feb. 16 meeting was an early stage in the approval process for an official development plan for the center to be located at 8200 West 106th Avenue in northwest Westminster.
The temple would occupy 5.7 acres and would include the center itself, a garden court, prayer wheel wall, deck and parking lot. The center’s mission statement is to, “promote the preservation and practice of Tibetan Buddhism for the benefit of all sentient beings,” said Gyurmed Dorjee, the center’s minister, at the Feb. 16 meeting.
Since the center would be the first of its kind in Westminster, Dorjee and architect Will Gaebler went into more detail about its practices. The prayer wheels, for example, are small chimes mounted on walls that people spin as they walk around the wall.
“When we spin this, we believe those prayers are carried by the wind and spreading everywhere around the universe and benefit all sentient beings,” Dorjee said.
Later in the meeting, though, residents expressed concerns. They submitted questions and comments beforehand that a city employee read aloud. One question was, “A building with spires on them does not fit into the existing architecture of our neighborhood and thus, does not fit the fabric of our neighborhood. Is it possible not to allow the spire?”
In response, Gaebler and city planner John McConnell explained the spires are part of the community’s religious expression, similar to a cross on a Christian church.
“The elements that we’re proposing on the development have symbolic meaning to them … The intent wasn’t necessarily to conform to an American vernacular style,” Gaebler said.
Other questions and comments from the public were about, as one person said, “noise pollution” from prayer wheels and chanting. McConnel said the city doesn’t anticipate there being noise disturbances.
Summarizing the debate playing out in the meeting, city planner Nathan Lawrence said at one point, “It really becomes an issue of trying to find that middle ground of what fits into the neighborhood and what is needed, or almost expected, of a meditation center or a temple structure.”
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