Planning Commission Approves Conditional Use Permit for a Proposed Hindu Mandir in Henderson Despite Intense Neighborhood Opposition. Conflict and Division in the Family.
American Hindu Association (AHA), led by Secretary Baba Anal, is pleased to announce the approval of the Conditional Use Permit (CUP) and construction design of the first Hindu Mandir in the City of Henderson amid intense opposition from the neighbors in the rural neighborhood.
American Hindu Association (AHA) leadership, under the direction of President Satish Bhatnagar, Secretary Baba Anal, and Treasurer Madhu Anal, along with a few other members of the association, is planning to build a new Hindu Mandir named Anand Utsav Mandir in the City of Henderson. In October 2021, the association bought a 5-acre undeveloped land located at the southwest corner of Lisbon Street and Berlin Avenue in Henderson’s rural neighborhood for $425,000.
The current land use zoning is Low-Density Residential with Rural Neighborhood Overlay (RS-1-RN) and the land use is designated as RNP-1 (Rural Neighborhood Preservation 1). Initially, the association filed for a zoning change from RS-1-RN to Public and Semi-Public (PS). AHA has reduced the dome’s height on the main Temple by 12 feet (from 47 to 35 feet), eliminated the administrative office building and a visitor building that contained eight bedrooms, and withdrew the rezoning request to align more closely with the neighborhood zoning.
The zoning change notice was mailed to over 100 property owners within 1025 feet of the proposed Mandir. A neighborhood meeting was held on April 25th, 2022, to appraise the nearby property owners with the site and landscaping plans, floor plans, and other pertinent information. As per the letter to the City, the architect appraised the community development department of the outcome of the meeting. Over one hundred attendees were present and firmly opposed the zoning change and building of a Mandir in their neighborhood. The City received numerous emails and letters opposing the Mandir. After reviewing close to 200 pages of responses, there were few supporters as well; however, most of the supporters included many members of the extended Bhatnagar family from around the country with no connection to the Vegas community. Majority of the one liner messages from Bhatnagars’ outside of Vegas were – I strongly support for first sanatan hindu temple (ANAND UTSAV MANDIR) in city of Henderson 89015 [sic]
The proposed Mandir has created a rift in the immediate family based on emails and letters. Satish Bhatnagar’s brother-in-law, Rakesh Bhatnagar, is not a Treasurer anymore of the Association. As of July 2022, Secretary Baba Anal’s wife, Madhu Anal (Satish’s sister), has taken over the responsibilities of Treasurer of the AHA. It’s not over yet as the daughter of President Satish Bhatnagar, Archna, has overwhelmingly opposed the Mandir, not because of the location issues but for the funding mechanism of the whole project. In an email to the City of Henderson, Archna is accusing her uncle and aunt, the current Secretary Baba Anal and Treasurer Madhu Anal, of borderline elder abuse.
As per the email to the City of Henderson, Archna wrote… “Anal Baba and Madhu have sourced the entire temple land acquisition and temple financial cost through my father, Satish Bhatnagar. However this is against the direct expressed wishes of my mother, Prabha Bhatnagar. When the temple planners initiated this temple plan, they requested my parents to find 100% of the cost (approx $500,000). My parents live in modest means and this would be drawing from their respective retirement life-time savings. The temple planing applicants have stubbornly refused to seek our local Indian community’s financial help for their grand temple plans: which means there is no community buy-in.” [sic]
Archna, in her email, continued, “Upon hearing of their huge money grab, my mother wrote Anal Baba and Madhu a detailed letter, expressing her strong objection for using her and her husband’s funds for their personal temple plan. Without a doubt, the temple planners have exerted undue influence on my elderly father. This is concerning to me and my siblings as it may very well amount to elder abuse.” [sic]
Neighbors opposed religious use within the area, as there are already a number of churches within the area. They opposed zone change and wanted to keep residential zoning within the project site. They were concerned with increased traffic, street improvements (sewer line and sidewalks), and street lights and wanted to leave the area rural. Neighbors were also under the impression that there would be a hotel/motel type of service being provided on-site as well as regular large masses held on regular bases, which they did not support. The neighbors did not give any feedback on proposed changes other than not to build a Temple there.
Due to the initial opposition by the neighbors, the association decided to reduce the height of the dome on the main Temple by 12 feet (from 47 to 35 feet), eliminated the administrative office building and a visitor building that contained eight bedrooms, and withdrew the rezoning request, all to align more closely with the neighborhood zoning.
The proposed Anand Utsav Mandir Complex contains multiple buildings on a 5-Acre site, from religious buildings to multipurpose buildings to residential ones. As per the plans, there will be five unique structures –
- Temple, worship area at 2,416 SF, with covered patio around, for the total of 4,295 SF and 35’-0″ in height.
- Multi-Purpose Building, to house living areas, kitchen and dining areas, storage and restroom facilities to be accessed from inside and outside the building; the Multi-Purpose Building area is at 6,551 SF.
- Main residence (single family with garage setting) to be used as a residence by the Owner, area is at 3,926 SF.
- The secondary residence that will be for visitors, six bedrooms, area is at 3,254 and
- Shed at 625 square feet for tool storage for maintenance.
The site is to function as a temple complex for worship/prayer and the practice of Hinduism. The site will also be a residence for the owner and one other permanent staff member. The other buildings will serve for assembly and a temporary living accommodations for pilgrims visiting the Temple.
The association has hired Suzana Rutar Architects to work on the project and represent the AHA with the maze of bureaucratic and community issues relating to conforming to zoning in the neighborhood surrounded by residential homes in a rural setting.
After reviewing all the zoning regulations, the City of Henderson staff finds that the amended proposal does not adversely impact the Rural Neighborhood Preservation (RNP), and the RNP does not prohibit religious assembly. After reviewing the existing development codes, the proposed use complies with all applicable provisions of the Development Code. The proposed use will have a total of 18,651 square feet of space. It will be compatible with other residential and religious assembly uses in the area, and low-intensity religious facility uses are appropriate in a residential zoning district.
In its meeting on August 11th, 2022, the City of Henderson’s Planning Commission approved the conditional use per permit and the architectural plans for the proposed Anand Utsav Mandir to be located at the corner of Lisbon Street and Berlin Avenue in Henderson.
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