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Local

Former Broadview Academy to become Hindu worship site

The site of a former Adventist boarding school could soon become home to a worship center for the adherents of a Hindu sect.

The Kane County Board appears poised to approve a permit that would allow the group known in the U.S. as the Mata Amritanandayami Center, or M.A. Center, to convert the former Broadview Academy on Keslinger Road in LaFox into the group's latest M.A. Center facility.

The county board's development committee unanimously recommended approval of the M.A. Center's special use permit last week. The measure could advance to the full county board for a decision as soon as the next board meeting in early April.

"This property has been unused for about six years; it's a tough property to sell and it's falling apart," said county board member Drew Frasz, R-Elburn. "This proposed use is almost identical to its previous use, just with no boarding school.

"So this is a real good project."

The site has been unoccupied since 2007, when the Seventh Day Adventist Church closed Broadview Academy, which had operated from that location since the late 1950s.

The facility includes 18 buildings on 102 acres.

Representatives of the M.A. Center told the development committee that the site will be used for worship activities and retreats tied to the following of Hindu guru Mata Amritanandayami, known to her followers as Amma and commonly referred to as the "Hugging Saint."

Amritanandayami annually circles the globe, and her followers have built M.A. Centers in several cities. They are based in the U.S. in Castro Valley, Calif., and in the Midwest out of Ann Arbor, Mich.

The M.A. Center representatives said the group has no intention of housing residents at the LaFox property "on a permanent basis" or to rent the facility to people unaffiliated with the M.A. Center.

The M.A. Center has also purchased a neighboring 40-acre farm field on which adherents intend to grow food and promote "environmental action."

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