Meditation centre is council approved

A BUDDHIST meditation centre at Upper Orara was approved by Coffs Harbour City Council on Thursday night, but with a number of conditions attached.

The centre, which will use the premises of the existing Buddhist monastery at 26B Jaboh Close, will hold weekend lectures and longer educational retreats. Jaboh Close is a rural residential area.

Coffs Harbour City Council has limited the number of functions to 20 a year, with no more than 20 people at lectures and 12 at retreats and has limited weekend hours of operation to between 9am and 5pm.

Council has also insisted on a 20-metre landscaping buffer around the perimeter of the 2.2ha site; the upgrading of the septic system and the construction of a 16-space car park.

The centre will also have to use a new access road.

There were 12 objections to the proposed meditation centre.

Concerns included experiences with previous functions at the site; inadequate access and the 'unsafe' intersection of Jaboh Close and Mt Browne Road, which is located on a sharp turn; inadequate on-site effluent disposal; concerns about traffic and safety, especially for children; privacy; and the visual impact of the development.

The public officer for Coffs Harbour's Dhammaduta Buddhist Association, David Bryant, said he believed many of the concerns had arisen from the Monastery's opening ceremony which had attracted 600 people, with the large numbers taking the members of the newly-formed organisation unawares.

But he said this had been a most unusual event, as it had included 33 Buddhist monks, including six of the world's 11 Tripitaka monks.

Tammy Child, whose house is only metres away from the building proposed for the meditation centre, said it would not be possible to have a 20-metre buffer zone in that location and the only solution would be a boundary fence, with landscaping on her side of the boundary. She said the resident monk was a 'lovely' neighbour but she remained concerned about the number of days the meditation centre would operate, up to 32 weekends a year and the number of visitors who wander on to her property.

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