Zoning for Buddhist statue OK'd
The only condition is that the FAA approve the 49-foot-tall figure.


A statue of Buddhist goddess Quan Am, like this one, will be erected here. Courtesy
By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer
Published: 3/25/2009  2:20 AM
Last Modified: 3/25/2009  3:18 AM

It's not often that God comes up at Board of Adjustment hearings.

Tuesday was the exception.

After a nearly hourlong public hearing sprinkled with discussions of religion, the zoning board voted 4-1 to give an east Tulsa Buddhist temple conditional approval to construct a 49-foot-tall granite statue of the Buddhist goddess Quan Am.

"I have no problem with it, when it comes down to it," board member Jim Stephens said before voting.

Board member Mike Tidwell voted against permitting the Tam-Bao Buddhist Temple, 16933 E. 21st St., to amend its previously approved site plan, saying the proposed location of the statue — 300 feet from 21st Street — was too close to the road.

Because the city's zoning code sets no height restriction on agriculturally zoned districts, the board's task Tuesday was to determine whether the statue, to be erected on an 8-foot pedestal, would be in harmony with the spirit and intent of the zoning code and not injurious to the neighborhood. It was not asked to determine the merits of the statue.

As board member Clayda Stead noted, "This board is generic when it comes to religion."

On Tuesday, however, the issue was hard to avoid.

Carole Carner said she opposed the statue because it would not be in keeping with the city's development plans for the area.

"We decided a statue of this proportion would just not be fruitful for and would prohibit the progress that we have been trying to plan in east Tulsa,"
she said.

When pressed by board Chairman Frazier Henke to clarify whether her objection to the statue was based on its height or the fact it would be a Buddhist statue, Carner replied: "Well, a Buddhist statue going up to the sky, yes."

Carner said she believes that a similar-size statue of Jesus Christ would be turned down because it would be detrimental to the neighborhood.

City Councilor Dennis Troyer echoed Carner's concern that the statue would not fit into the city's plans for the area and said the temple had not received approval to construct the statue from the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA's approval is needed because the statue's proposed site is just 1 1/2 miles from Harvey Young Airport, Troyer said.

He also said the proposed statue was different, for example, from the Praying Hands statue and Prayer Tower on the Oral Roberts University campus.

"This is a deity which they worship, therefore making it a god, making it a deity, and that's the difference," Troyer said.

He added, "That is another reason why so many people oppose it."

Temple member Xuan Pham told board members that the temple's neighbors support construction of the statue.

"As far as the city of Tulsa, it would not only beautify Tulsa but also make it a safe and peaceful town to live in since it would indirectly produce kind, loving and compassionate citizens," Pham said.

The board's approval was granted with the condition that the temple obtain a letter of approval from the FAA.


Kevin Canfield 581-8313
By KEVIN CANFIELD World Staff Writer

By Staff reports
Published: 3/29/2009  4:21 AM
Last Modified: 3/29/2009  4:21 AM

NO STATUE OF LIMITATIONS: Tulsa missed its chance to have the tallest free-standing bronze statue in the world when “The American,” a statue of an Indian Warrior, never got 0% the ground in north Tulsa. That won’t be the case for a 49-foot granite statue of the Buddhist goddess Quan Am. The Tulsa Board of Adjustment approved plans by the Tam-Bao Buddhist Temple, 16933 E. 21st St., to erect the statue. At 57 feet, Quan Am would be about 3 feet shorter than the landmark praying hands at Oral Roberts University.