EAST MANATEE -- A county hearing officer has reaffirmed his decision allowing a spiritual community in an East Manatee neighborhood to build a worship center.
Hearing officer Jack Hawkins ruled Wednesday that opponents of the Shien Deh Temple project did not provide enough evidence to reopen the case. Opponents included some temple neighbors.
Hawkins had already granted a special use permit to the Ming Deh Development Society, a nonprofit corporation operating a Daoist congregation.
The congregation plans to build a two-story, 9,750-square-foot building to accommodate a sanctuary and meditation rooms on its 2.39-acre lot at 6916 18th Ave. E., east of
Morgan Johnson Road.
"I guess we think he got it right, and I'm very glad he decided to approve the permit," said attorney Robert Lincoln, who represents the society.
Lincoln said the project still requires site plan approval before construction can start.
"It must address accommodating additional buffering, and will have to deal with drainage and stormwater issues, the evaluation of an expanding septic system, and putting in the parking," said Lincoln. "All of these things go to issues the neighbors raised, and it addressed most of them."
Earlier this month, Hawkins ruled that the worship center was not disruptive enough to deny a permit although it wasn't entirely consistent with the surrounding neighborhood.
"Based on the evidence submitted, it appears the neighborhood has been nearly or completely developed into a residential neighborhood with single-family homes," Hawkins wrote in his decision. "Thus it does not appear the development would necessarily have a negative impact on the development and improvement of surrounding properties."
The congregation has already been holding services for a decade inside a 4,000-square-foot home on the property.
Sara Kennedy, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7031. Follow her on Twitter @sarawrites.