Buddhists lose bid to build temple in Conn.

By The Associated Press
01.31.08

HARTFORD, Conn. — The state Supreme Court has unanimously rejected a Buddhist society's efforts to build a temple in Newtown.

The Cambodian Buddhist Society of Connecticut argued last year that Newtown was violating state and federal laws that protect religious freedom — including RLUIPA (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000) — when it denied a permit for the temple.

The court rejected those claims in Cambodian Buddhist Society v. Planning and Zoning Commission.

Supporters had said the Cambodian Buddhist temple, which would have been the first in the state, was important to preserving their religion and culture because elders are dying off. Many of those trying to build the temple fled the killing fields of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge 30 years ago.

But Newtown officials and neighbors of the 10-acre site where the temple would have been built said it could attract up to 450 people on days when religious festivals are held. The Planning and Zoning Commission declared that level of activity "too intense."