PORTLAND The former landfill across from Madison High School near Northeast 82nd Avenue has been one of Portland s biggest eyesores and a magnet for transients.

The area has served as a driving range and there has even been a proposal for a Wal-Mart there, but now neighbors are talking about some other big plans for the space.

By next year, it could become a Buddhist religious center with community gardens and paths connecting it to Rocky Butte.

The Dharma Rain Zen Center bought 14 acres of the land in November.

It s been in the Buckman neighborhood for the last 25 years, but now the center wants to expand.

Besides a temple and green space, the building plans include a preschool and a 30-unit co-housing community.

Crews have already started clearing the overgrown land and reaching out to neighbors.

Kurt Muntzel still has his yard sign protesting plans to build a Wal-Mart there a few years ago. He's more open to the idea of a Buddhist center.

I think it's going to be a great addition to the neighborhood. It's going to have nature trails and multi-use buildings and classes, so I think it's great. Better than some big retail center, he said.

Before plans can move forward, the city has to approve the land use. There will be a public hearing March 20.

KGW reporter Katherine Cook contributed to this report.

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