Tibetan Center to Expand Publishing Operations
A Tibetan Buddhist retreat center in Sonoma County has the county's permission to expand its printing operations. The Ratna Ling Retreat Center near Cazadero has received unanimous approval from the county zoning board to change their use permit. The Ratna Ling Retreat Center says, and county staff have agreed, that printing sacred texts is part of Tibetan Buddhist practice.
Neighbors were hoping to stop the retreat center's plans. Their main objection is the proposal to ramp up the number of truck trips to and from the site - from the original twelve per year approved in 2004 to more than 700 in the current application.
“What's interesting about this conflict,” says Frances Dinkelspiel with KQED News Associate Berkeleyside, “is that it sort of pits the question of religious freedom against zoning rights.”
Dinkelspiel says the local residents are not accusing Ratna Ling of illegal behavior. Rather, she says, they're concerned the organization is using the cover of its religion to create an industrial-scale operation that would not be normally permitted.
Ratna Ling runs Dharma Publishing, which currently occupies a twenty-one thousand square foot printing facility in the rolling foothills of the property, with an additional thirty-nine thousand square feet of book storage.