Meditation organization wants township’s nod

Moon supervisors will resume a public hearing Wednesday on a resolution to acknowledge that a nonprofit transcendental meditation organization is seeking bond financing for a project within the township’s borders.

Global Country of World Peace, which has its U.S. headquarters in Iowa, eventually plans to build what it calls a Peace Palace, which focuses on teaching transcendental meditation, at 971 Beaver Grade Road.

Scott Brilhart, township planning director, said Global Country is seeking a $55 million bond from the Colorado Health Facilities Authority to build Peace Palaces across the country.

Brilhart said the U.S. Internal Revenue Service code requires that municipalities approve the issuance of tax-exempt bonds such as that Global Country is seeking.

Township Assistant Manager Jodi Noble said Global Country wants the Moon supervisors’ “acknowledgement of their use of the tax-exempt bond process on a facility here in Moon.”

Township officials say this is the first time they have been asked for such a resolution.

“It’s just a very unusual circumstance,” said supervisors Chairwoman Cindy Johnston.

“The process is different than anything we’ve ever seen,” she said, especially because Global Country has not yet submitted plans for development at the site.

The first part of the public hearing was Feb. 7. It will resume at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Moon municipal building, 1000 Beaver Grade Road.

“We’ve never done one of these hearings before, but I guess they’ve had similar hearings” in other areas across the nation where Global Country has prepared to build Peace Palaces, Noble said. She said that if and when the organization prepares to build, it would have to go through a separate township process to obtain township approvals for developing the site and building on it.

Ralph Emmerich, director of the Moon Peace Palace, said the process for the bond resolution should have been simple because “it’s not like the township is taking on any financial liability.”

The organization already owns the 7.38-acre property, which it bought on Dec. 16, 2005, from H. Elizabeth Gundelfinger for $595,000, according to the Allegheny County real estate Web site. The site is across the street from a former King’s Family Restaurant .

Brilhart said Emmerich is living in a house on the property.

Emmerich said group members would teach transcendental meditation techniques and offer alternative health programs at the Peace Palace, which would eventually have a shop.

Donna Schechtman, one of three directors for the North Bethesda, Md., Peace Palace, said Peace Palaces primarily focus on teaching transcendental meditation and “have nothing to do with any particular religion or culture.”

Global Country’s Web site said the organization plans to build about 3,000 Peace Palaces worldwide for transcendental meditation, education and other uses. The group was founded by the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of India, whose transcendental meditation practices were used by the Beatles.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday March 2, 2007.
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