Falun Gong’s expansion plans in bucolic area stoke tensions

DEERPARK, N.Y. (AP) — Expansion plans for Falun Gong’s compound in the hills of upstate New York have heightened tensions with neighbors.

They worry that the religious group banned by China could harm the area’s environment and rural character by bringing in more buildings, more residents and more visitors.

Falun Gong, known for staging traditional Chinese dance performances around the world, says it wants to live in peace. But critics say the group has flouted land-use regulations for years.

Its Dragon Springs compound an hour’s drive northwest of New York City is currently home to about 100 people who live among a mix of Chinese-style and modern buildings.

Now they’re asking for an expansion that would include a 920-seat music hall and other buildings that would be able to accommodate up to 500 residents.

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