Long Van Temple Triumphs After Lengthy Dispute with Zoning Board

September 1, 2006

Source: Orlando Sentinel


On September 1, 2006 the Orlando Sentinel reported, "It's a good thing there was no meter running on this parking project. There wouldn't be enough quarters. For more than a decade, the Long Van Temple in east Orange County has been trying to create a 61-space parking lot next to its building. But some neighbors on Cornelia Avenue have complained that the lot would draw even more cars to their narrow residential street. Until recently, the county has sided with the residents and denied a paving permit. That changed last week when the Orange County Commission unanimously approved construction of the lot, bringing to 86 the number of parking spaces for the 800-member Buddhist temple. Tony Wu, director of the Florida Vietnamese Buddhist Association and one of the temple's leaders, called the decision a victory for basic American freedoms. 'Freedom of speech and religion are sacred in America,' he said. 'The County Commission finally did the right thing.' The ordeal began in 1992, when the temple bought the adjacent property to build a parking lot for its growing membership. Temple leaders got permission to pave and mark the parking spaces but failed to act within the two years that the permit was valid. When leaders tried for a new permit, they ran into opposition from some neighbors, who argued the temple had grown too big for their street. They said Cornelia came to a standstill during holiday celebrations and that parking often spilled out into the street. Because of these complaints, the temple's permit was denied several times through the years by the zoning board as well as the County Commission. Temple leaders, however, found an ally in Mildred Fernandez, the county commissioner for the area since 2004. Fernandez said she looked into the complaints and felt they were biased against the temple, which opened in 1983."