A Hindu sect is seeking a special exception that would allow it to build a 500-seat temple on 5.8 acres in South Nashville.
On Aug. 4, the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals will consider the International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization’s request because the targeted site at 355 Haywood Lane is in a residentially zoned area.
The temple would be the first in Tennessee for the socio-spiritual Hindu organization, which has roughly 150 followers in the Greater Nashville area. Currently, those families meet every other week in rented space, said Manhar Patel, president of the International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization’s Tennessee chapter.
“If we had a temple, more people can attend daily services, prayers and get the blessing from the priest,” the Lewisburg, Tenn., resident said.
The planned 33,000-square-foot temple is expected to draw 200 to 250 worshippers. The International Swaminarayan Satsang Organization, whose founder is His Holiness T. J. Panday, has 19 temples nationwide and is seeking to add new locations in states such as Alabama and Tennessee.
“There’s a good chance (of approval) because there are already several churches on the street,” said Chris Jenkins, project manager with civil engineering firm Sain Associates.
Last fall, the Metro Board of Zoning Appeals granted Agape Mission Church a special exception to build a 7,400-square-foot sanctuary at 331 Haywood Lane.
At a community meeting Monday, some neighbors raised concerns about the proposed Hindu temple adding to traffic along Haywood Lane.
“Because it’s an arterial connector between Nolensville Pike and Interstate 24, it’s a very heavily trafficked road,” said Jim Hodge, a former Metro councilman who owns property in that area. “If you build a church or any kind of commercial activity, you’re going to increase the number of vehicles as opposed to a single-family home.”
In a comment to the zoning appeals board, area resident Imojean Wilkins said she doesn’t want the temple in the neighborhood. “They can (find) a place where there are not homes,” she said.
Thomas W. Neel Jr. is the owner of the 5.8-acre property at 355 Haywood Lane, which sits across Haywood Lane from a location of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Closing of the socio-spiritual Hindu organization’s contract is contingent on obtaining the special exception from the zoning appeals board.
The 5.8-acre site is part of 92 acres that in 2015 were rezoned to the current low-density residential category that allows for single-family dwellings on a minimum 40,000-square-foot lot.
Under the Southeast Community Plan, 355 Haywood Lane is in a special policy area that’s intended to maintain the development pattern of large residential properties with moderate to deep street setbacks and unusually large backyards.
Last year, the Southeast Community Plan was updated as part of the city’s NashvilleNext 25-year growth plan.