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First Buddhist monastery in Minnesota to make home in Savage

  • Article by: Liala Helal
  • Star Tribune
  • May 16, 2013 - 10:22 AM

The quietness of Savage has attracted a Buddhist group’s interest in building a new monastery on a lot it is calling a “beautiful, natural and pure environment.” It would be the first Buddhist monastery in the state.

The city’s planning commission last week recommended that the City Council approve the request to convert a ­single-family home into the Tay ­Phuong Monastery.

The 29-acre site is located at the southwest corner of 150th Street and County Road 27.

A monastery is different from a Buddhist temple in that it is not only a place of worship, but also a place for education and deeper activities for the Buddhist community. There are two Vietnamese Buddhist temples in the state, in Roseville and Blaine. They are independent and have no ties to this monastery project.

Minnesota’s Vietnamese Buddhist Association is heading up the project. The monastery would provide worship space for up to 70 people and living accommodations for two monks. A 19-vehicle parking lot also would be constructed.

Thich Hanh Duc, the monk who would lead the monastery, wrote in a letter to raise funds that it will be a place “to learn and practice Buddhism, as well as a place for monks and nuns to spread the dharma.” In the future, the group hopes to build a “four-gratitude tower” for worshipping Buddha’s relics and as a place for ancestors’ ashes, the letter said.

“At the same time, in the monastery campus, we plan to build a hospice to meet the needs of the elderly and provide a peaceful place to practice Buddhism,” Hanh Duc wrote. “In addition, we plan to create a facility with conditions for the young to show their filial piety toward their ancestors and their parents in this very present life.”

Savage planning manager Bryan Tucker said the site is zoned for mixed use, which means the proposal is an acceptable use for the land.

“They were looking for a site that’s a little bit more tied into the natural surroundings,” Tucker said.

Traffic would not be an immediate concern for the area, since the building would start on a smaller scale, he said. The site’s neighboring area includes single-family residences to the west, Prior Lake-Savage High School further west, townhouses to the north, and undeveloped properties to the east. A large wetland is located in the southwest corner of the property, and the rest of the land is slopes.

The proposal will go to the City Council for consideration at its meeting on Monday.

“It’s a permitted use, so it’s not something the city really can or would want to evaluate in great detail, other than the fact that they desire to be there, it’s a nice site for them, and they meet all the requirements,” Tucker said.

 

Liala Helal • 952-746-3286

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