ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (Diya TV) — Orange County, Florida commissioners voted against a special exception request that would allow the construction of a substantial 33,000-square-foot Hindu temple in Gotha. The verdict was met with disappointment by members of the BAPS Hindu congregation, prompting a reconsideration of their plans for establishing a new temple in the region.

During a Board of Commissioners meeting broadcast on Diya TV’s sister station WSWF Channel 10 in Orlando, 48 individuals voiced their opinions on whether the Hindu Temple should be built and its compatibility with the community’s aesthetic. David Boers, a Gotha resident, emphasized the need for adjustments to the proposed square footage, stating that there was nothing comparable in Gotha in terms of size.

The proposed project aimed to occupy nearly nine acres of land between the Jehovah’s Witness Kingdom Hall and a nursery along Hempel Avenue. Jim Willard, the temple’s applicant, argued that this location would provide the necessary space for the growing congregation, as the current building on Oak Ridge Road in Orlando was proving insufficient. Temple leaders noted that over 60% of their members reside in the community.

Originally planned as a 33,000 sq ft. two-story building with 800 seats and 312 parking spaces, the temple faced scrutiny for its size. In response to community concerns, Willard revised the plans, reducing parking spaces to 282 and modifying the hours of operation. The revised conditions allowed no more than four advertised outdoor special events per year, limited from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. BAPS members assured that events and worship services wouldn’t disrupt traffic flow and that the building would be out of sight from local residents.

Despite these modifications, after nearly eight months of deliberation, Orange County commissioners voted 5-2 to reject the proposed “Temple on Hempel.” Residents raised concerns about potential flooding issues in the area, emphasizing their preference for a primarily residential and low-impact community with environmental open space.

The decision marks a victory for opponents of the proposal, signaling a setback for the BAPS Hindu congregation’s plans. Dr. Jamin Brahmbhatt, a volunteer and devotee, expressed resilience, stating that despite the disappointment, they would continue their search for a suitable location in Orlando.

Editor’s Note: Orange County provides compensation to broadcast their channels Orange TV & Vision TV on Diya TV’s sister station, WSWF Channel 10 in Orlando.