Monk, Neighbors Not at Peace

November 22, 2006

Author: Krista J. Kapralos

Source: The Buddhist Channel/HeraldNet,3452,0,0,1,0

Cars clogged Jefferson Way near Lynnwood and lined the residential road's narrow shoulders. The traditional southeast-Asian music blasting from the temple's stereo was so loud that neighbors longed for earplugs.

"It was terrible, chaotic," said Sharon Beer, who can see the terra-cotta lions guarding the temple's driveway from her back yard.

That's what neighbors remember of the 2003 grand opening of Watt Khemararam, a Cambodian Buddhist temple. The Venerable Try Snguon, a Cambodian Buddhist monk, thought everyone would enjoy the celebration.

Instead, some neighbors filed noise complaints with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Department. Snguon is known among Cambodian refugees across the Pacific Northwest for his wisdom and fortune-telling abilities.

He never predicted that he would clash with his neighbors.

Snguon moved more than 7,000 miles from Cambodia to serve Cambodian refugees in Snohomish County. With $250,000 in donations from the county's Cambodian Buddhists, he bought 31/2 acres of unincorporated Snohomish County land near Lynnwood.

His plan was to build a temple, but he didn't get far.