About 50 residents attended an Orange Township Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last week to voice concerns about a planned religious temple at 6651 S. Old State Road.

About 50 residents attended an Orange Township Planning and Zoning Commission meeting last week to voice concerns about a planned religious temple at 6651 S. Old State Road.

The Jain Center of Central Ohio is seeking a rezoning to build a temple on the five-acre site now zoned residential.

The Delaware County Regional Planning Commission recommended the rezoning, which township attorney Michael McCarthy said is not binding. The Orange zoning panel will discuss the plan again 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 2.

As a religion, Jainism is has similarities to to Buddhism to Hinduism, center member and Orange Township resident Hiten Shah said after the meeting. It is an ancient religion founded in India and has a strict adherence to nonviolence and a vegan diet, he said.

Jack Reynolds, attorney for the Jain Center, said RLG Builder Inc. bought the land in 2005 and abandoned its plan to develop six residential lots.

Melinda Shah -- the project's architect from the firm Schooley Caldwell and a member of the Jain community -- said the temple would be built in two phases. A square two-story building, 60 feet on a side, would be built in three years and later expanded to 90 feet on a side.

It would include a storage area, two bathrooms, a classroom and a multipurpose room.

The exterior would be made of locally manufactured concrete brick. She said the roof would be flat and eventually a dome would be added.

Property owners, many from South Old State and Coltsbridge roads, raised concerns.

Resident Kay Ball said the nonresidential use should serve the "immediate community." She wanted to see a population study on how many residents would be served by the facility.

Hiten Shah said later about 120 families in the greater Columbus area are temple members. Twenty-five member families are in Delaware County, including about 12 in Orange Township.

Ball and several residents said they were concerned about light pollution that would be caused by the 10 light poles proposed in the plans.

Resident Michael Palkowski said he would like to see a traffic impact study conducted, even though county engineer Chris Bauserman's office said one wasn't needed because the attendees would arrive at off-peak hours.

Resident Craig Southerland said a nonprofit religious property would take away needed property tax revenue from the schools and township.

He also was concerned about the effect stormwater runoff from the parking lot of 53 spaces would have on the environment, in particular the creek that runs through the property and into his property. He also thought the size of the building was too large for the lot.

McCarthy said the commission's decision would be a legislative one, subject to referendum.

bbutcher@thisweeknews.com