Originally published July 25, 2012 at 7:23 a.m., updated July 25, 2012 at 5:02 p.m.
A permit to expand a controversial Buddhist center in Bonsall was granted today by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, which also denied a community planning group's appeal.
The permit will allow 30 residents to live at the Dai Dang Meditation Center compound, on a nearly nine-acre site at 6326 Camino del Rey.
The Buddhist group bought the property in 2001 and sought the major use permit three years later to legalize its use and add an 8,900-square-foot residence, 7,600-square-foot meditation hall and 6,200-square-foot worship hall connected by walkways, courtyards and gardens. The plan also called for about 120 parking places.
The county Planning Commission unanimously approved the project, but the Bonsall Community Sponsor Group voted against it four times in the past eight years and appealed the Planning Commission decision to the Board of Supervisors.
"These monks will be tremendous neighbors and they have no intention of destroying Bonsall,'' said Supervisor Bill Horn.
Opponents say the Vietnamese Buddhist meditation center does not fit the character of the community and its agricultural surroundings and is incompatible with an abutting 15-acre avocado grove that uses pesticides.
"I'm very sympathetic to ag, but at the same time I don't have the fear that meditating Buddhists are going to put the avocados out of business,'' Horn said.
Richard Grunow of the county's Department of Planning and Land Use said the center would be similar in size, scale and bulk to other facilities in the surrounding area. A right-turn lane into the facility would be provided, public views of the project would be minimal, and the center would not affect the ability to spray pesticides on the adjacent avocado orchard, he said.
Supervisor Dianne Jacob cast the lone dissenting vote, stating the monastery could meet with the community and the farm bureau to reach a compromise and reduce the intensity of the project.