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Hindu Temple coming to Sugar Hill

SUGAR HILL - After five years of holding services inside Norcross' Global Mall, Hindu Temple Shiv Mandir will have a home in Sugar Hill.

The temple's 11.34 acres on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard is half paid for. Contractors are ready to start building the 40,000-square-foot temple with about 250 parking spaces. However, 22 of those proposed parking spaces would encroach within 37 feet of Level Creek in three places. Sugar Hill requires a 50-foot setback from streams.

City Councilmen tabled until November the congregation's request for a variance that would allow those extra parking spaces to be built 13 feet inside the buffer. Part of the driveway would also slip 25 feet inside the required 75-foot privacy buffer that shelters Parkview subdivision from the temple.

For several years, developer Dick Myrick fought for the right to build a three-story apartment complex on the site. The legal battle was settled in July, and the property sold to the temple's congregation.

"The buffer zones are here to protect our drinking water," said Henry Leach.

Betty Lemmons, into whose house the temple's lights would shine, argued that councilmen shouldn't back down from their own regulations.

"Why invoke laws if you back down so easily?" Lemmons asked. "We need to stand by our easements and rules."

"Shiv" is the name of a Hindu god and "Mandir" is the Hindi word for temple. The temple will open weekdays from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. for prayers with occasional weekend events. Adjeet Das, Shiv Mandir board member, said the board chose Sugar Hill for its accessibility.

"We like Sugar Hill and it is easily reached by members from Alpharetta and North Gwinnett," Das said. "We estimate there are 15,000 Hindu families in the area. We are building the temple large because we expect to grow."

Plans show a community hall to service weddings and other special events, which Das said will contribute to Sugar Hill's economy. If Shiv Mandir does not get its variance, Das said they will reduce the temple's size and number of parking spaces.

In other business in Mondays' City Council meeting:

•Councilmen approved an annexation and rezoning of 27 acres. The property lies in a triangle at Ga. Highway 20, Ga. Highway 317 and Riverside Parkway. The property was rezoned from mixed residential and commercial to general business. The planned office/retail development will hold 191,530 square feet of retail space and 42,250 square feet of restaurant space with 1,304 parking spaces and 32 handicap spaces. Sugar Hill's planning commission recommended approval of the project and Gwinnett County did not object to the annexation. No one spoke against the project.

•Sugar Hill set its alcohol ordinance at a citywide 75 feet from the establishment's property line to the nearest wall of a school or church. Mr. and Mrs. Carl Moody will soon know if their proposed restaurant location will make it. The Moodys plan to open a gathering place downtown serving beer, wine and healthy finger foods.

•Lisa DiCaro, Sugar Hill Golf Club office manager, was awarded the Sugar Hill Cube of Excellence for her 16 years of superior customer service. DiCaro helped open the golf club in 1990 when the offices were housed in a trailer.