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updated: 5/11/2011 11:14 AM

Islamic Center submits new application for West Chicago prayer center

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  • The group seeking approval to use this house at 28W774 Army Trail Road near West Chicago as an Islamic prayer center has submitted a new application.

      The group seeking approval to use this house at 28W774 Army Trail Road near West Chicago as an Islamic prayer center has submitted a new application.
    daily herald file photo

 
 

The Islamic Center of Western Suburbs is starting over with its effort to use a house near West Chicago as a prayer center.

DuPage County officials said the group is in the process of resubmitting its request for a conditional-use permit to have the house at 28W774 Army Trail Road declared a religious institution. A new application was dropped off Monday -- days after the group withdrew a request that was rejected by the county board's development committee.

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Kevin Gallaher, the center's attorney, said the decision to reapply was made because he wants the county board to have a clear understanding of the project before a final vote is taken.

"I am not sure the county board was going to have the kind of record that I want to have in considering this request," Gallaher said Tuesday.

Gallaher said he believes there's "some confusion" about the plans, which changed in recent months. The group, for example, is no longer seeking an exception to front- and side-yard setback rules. It also offered to comply with a list of requirements suggested by the county, including one that limits the facility to no more than 30 worshippers a day.

"Rather than go forward with an incomplete record, we felt that it was best to make a clean record," Gallaher said.

The zoning board of appeals, which reviewed the previous proposal, declined to consider the revised version. Then the development committee last week recommended the conditional-use permit be denied.

County board member Dirk Enger said he wasn't surprised when the center withdrew its previous petition, which the full board was expected to consider on Tuesday.

"I think they knew that it wasn't going to be able to pass," said Enger, one of the development committee members who opposed issuing the permit.

Enger said the plans would need to be modified to change his mind.

"It would have to blend in to the neighborhood that it's trying to get into," said Enger, whose district includes the site.

Enger has expressed concerns about possible traffic safety issues. He also wants assurances that a proposed parking lot won't reduce the capability of the house's septic system.

Meanwhile, a number of residents opposed to the project have said that the house was built to be home for a family -- not a religious institution.

But before the public debate can start all over again, the Islamic Center's leaders will need to pay an application fee.

"They put in an application with some money," said Paul Hoss, DuPage's zoning coordinator. "But it's not the correct amount of money. So they technically don't have a full, completed application submitted."

That fee is higher than normal because the group was cited last year for zoning violations related to parking and non-permitted uses of the property. The legal case still is pending.

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