The courtroom is expected to be filled
to overflowing Tuesday, Jan. 8 when a public hearing is held to deal with an application by Know Thyself As Soul Foundation for a special exception to establish a conference center in northwestern Suwannee County on 82 acres of Ag 1 zoned property off 16th Street.
A previous hearing scheduled for December 2001 was canceled after the group asked for a continuance until this month after it became apparent that neighbors in the area were rallying to fight the request.
Neighbors have hired an attorney and believe the conference center would bring an influx of hundreds or more people to the site for events to the quiet farming neighborhood.
An event several months ago at the site brought in several hundred guests on busses, according to neighbors.
According to the application by KTS, the group, led by Eastern spiritual leader/guru Sant Thakar Singh, is a ''nonprofit corporation with 501(C)(3) tax exempt, tax deductible and public charity status. KTS is recognized by both the IRS and the state of Florida as a publicly supported religious institution,'' the application states. ''KTS is a nonsectarian foundation promoting an ethical and spiritual lifestyle that seeks to know and worship God. This ancient, nondenominational spiritual path embraces the essence of all religious teachings
,'' the application states. ''Lighthouse Farm is also a spiritual and education center that provides the facilities and atmosphere for visitors to experience the serenity of nature, a vegetarian lifestyle and their own spiritual growth. The goal is to focus all our attention on God while being free to remain in our own religion and spiritual beliefs,'' the applications states. ''Lighthouse Farm offers church services and meditation facilities. The farm also offers education workshops on meditation, spirituality, vegetarian cooking and organic gardening. The spiritual path also encourages selfless services and the farm provides an opportunity for our guests and staff to volunteer their services, including garden work, tree planting and general farm work,'' the application states.
Source: Know Thyself As Soul special permit hearing is Jan. 8, Suwannee Democrat, Jan. 2, 2002