A statue of the Hindu deity Vishnu will be allowed on the property of Omkaar Temple in Lake Township after the Allen County Board of Zoning Appeals on Wednesday unanimously approved a variance for the object.
The statue required the variance because it was ruled a sign by the Department of Planning Services and exceeded size requirements for signs in agriculturally zoned areas.
Agricultural zoning in Allen County limits signs to 8 feet tall and a maximum area of 50 square feet.
The statue is 17 feet tall and will sit on a 6-foot concrete base, Fort Wayne attorney Al Hofer told the zoning board. Hofer said previous information that the statue was 27 feet tall was an error.
In response to letters from neighbors concerned about additional lighting in the rural neighborhood, temple representative Dr. Subhash Reddy, a Fort Wayne cardiologist, said lights illuminating the statue would be on a timer and be on only 6 to 8 p.m.
The lights would not be on during times of the year when it's still light at that time, he added.
Reddy said the blue-skinned Shiva is associated with yoga and cows, which are revered in Hindu tradition as sustainers of life. The deity also is associated with the journey of life into the afterlife, he said.
The temple is devoted to Shiva, and tradition places a statue of the honored deity outside the temple at about the same height, he said,.
Reddy told The Journal Gazette after the vote the temple is not a gathering place like a Christian church. Instead, it is visited by individual families who ask a priest to pray for them.
“There are only two temples like this in the United States,” Reddy said. “I see this temple as one of the most powerful temples in the world.”
The temple's address is 14745 Yellow River Road.
Chairman Thomas Black and members Adam Day, David Bailey and Ron Kohart voted for the variance. Heather Drebenstedt was absent.
In other business, the board agreed to defer a vote on a variance for a Marathon gas station at 6819 Bass Road. The station aroused controversy during an Allen County Plan Commission meeting primarily because of a canopy that was not allowed adjacent to a residential zone.
Fort Wayne attorney Josh Neal, representing the applicant Karnail Singh, asked for a 30-day continuance. He said the applicant wants to work on an alternate plan for the canopy and deal with other issues.
The rezoning and primary development plan are scheduled to be voted on today during the plan commission's business meeting at 1 p.m. in Room 30 of Citizens Square.
Also deferred until Sept. 15 was a proposal for two variances for a communications tower at 17455 Lochner Road, Spencerville. The deferral was done administratively and did not require a vote.