Proposed Buddhist Temple in Toledo neighborhood has residents upset

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Residents on Emmajean and Estateway are upset by a letter they received last week. It says within a few weeks, a Zen Buddhist Temple could be built in their neighborhood. The property owner says the neighbors have nothing to worry about.

Brenda Watkins and her husband have lived on Emmajean for 34 years. They do not like the thought of a temple being built in their neighborhood.

"This has been a quiet neighborhood and were just not ready for it. We don't want it regardless of what religion they are, that's not our concern. Our concern is we don't want the traffic flow," said Brenda Watkins.

Sunday afternoon Brenda and her neighbors invited Councilman Tyrone Riley to talk about how the temple would affect them.

"It would be foolish, let me put it that way, to begin construction before you receive the proper approval to do so," said Councilman Riley.

"We've spoken with planning commission to see if this was something that was within the building zoning and as religious use, it is," said Michael Leizerman, who owns the property.

A few years ago Michael Leizerman bought 20 acres of wooded land at the end of Emmajean. He built a home and will move in next month. But, he wants to donate half the land to the Zen Buddhist Temple, where he's a board member.

"We looked at this beautiful property and thought Zen Temple in Toledo is on a lease, wouldn't it be nice for it to have a permanent home that is quiet and in the woods?" wondered Liezerman.

He says the temple would be about 10,000 square feet with it's own driveway and parking lot. It would be built about 100 feet in to the woods. Buddhist clergy would likely live in a home the Zen Temple just bought just outside the gate of the property.

The neighbors worry about increased traffic on their narrow road. But, Leizerman says at most, only 30 cars would need to use that road and none would be parked on Brenda's street.

"When we talk about the neighbors, it's not like we're putting something here that we're not part of. We are the neighbors and we look forward to being good neighbors and having quiet and woods," said Leizerman.

"We're going to continue to fight this," said Brenda Watkins.

Monday February 18 Leizerman will meet with the neighbors at the Reynolds Corner Library at 7 PM. Councilman Tyrone Riley also plans to attend. It's important to note - the land has not officially been donated and no permits from the city have been granted.