Korean Buddhist group seeks property in Tuxedo for its American headquarters

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:52

    STERLING FOREST-A group of Korean Buddhists is seeking approval from the Town of Tuxedo to convert the former Reinhold Petro-Chemical Research Facility in Sterling Forest into its American Buddhist Church and meditation center. According to plans presented to the town and planning board officials, Nungin Sunwon USA would hold religious services and educational programs on Buddhist cultivation and meditation practices at the site, located on about 12 acres off Route 17A. As many as 250 daily visitors might attend such programs or to attend worship services. Nungin Sunwon Inc. is a Korean Buddhist organization that reports that it has about 250,000 members worldwide since its inception 10 years ago. Five monks would live on the property and operate the church. The group's proposal, which is before the Tuxedo Planning Board, also calls for renovations that would create housing accommodations for up to 20 families and 20 individuals. As a church operation, the group would qualify for tax exemption. Nils Gerling, the planning board chairman, said the group's attorney and the town board have discussed payments in lieu of taxes. Although the exact figure was not disclosed, those discussions continue. Gerling said town officials already have conducted a walk-through on the property with the applicant's engineers. The existing building is about 68,000 square feet, with wings extending east and west. A 170-seat auditorium is located where the wings meet. In addition to the housing, other renovations would include a worship hall, a library, classrooms and cafeteria. An outdoor statue may also be part of the plans. The local attorney for Nungin Sunwon USA could not be reached for comment. Gerling said he expects the planning board to reach its decision early next year.