ALACHUA — The Hare Krishnas founded their community in Alachua in 1977. More than 35 years later, they say it is the largest Hare Krishna community in North America.
It's become a wonderful home for devotees over the years, said Miriam Tassinare, president of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, or ISKCON, of the Alachua temple. It's been the perfect place, she said.
But the Krishnas are feeling squeezed and are pursuing approval from the Alachua County Commission for a planned development on their property at 17306 NW 112th Blvd. that would give them the flexibility to expand their operation over the course of the next 20 years.
Their plans include building a retreat center and a new temple, but they'll add those developments in phases since they'll need to design and gather funding for each project.
The master plan, if approved by the County Commission, would give them the ability to implement their long-term plans at their own pace, said Jay Brown, president of Brown and Cullen and principal engineer on the project.
After two years of working with county staff, Tassinare watched Wednesday as the Alachua County Planning Commission unanimously approved ISKCON's proposal. Their plan will come before the County Commission in June for final approval. If the planned development is established, the Hare Krishnas will be free to move forward with their ideas for a new temple, retreat facilities and other structures at their leisure.
The Hare Krishna Temple in Alachua stands on a 127-acre spread of land, lying across a dirt path from a charter school with green-and-cream buildings and a playground.
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