A west suburban Islamic group hoping to construct a mosque near Lombard received a double dose of bad news Tuesday.
After kicking the group's proposal back to the zoning board of appeals because of changes made to the plan, DuPage County Board members then denied a height variance request that would have allowed the proposed mosque to have roughly 50-foot-high dome.
Mark Daniel, an Elmhurst-based attorney representing the Muslim Community Association of the Western Suburbs, said he was disappointed.
"The county board made a bad decision on both counts today," he said. "Hopefully, it won't continue."
The county board voted 8-6 to deny the variance, after considering tabling it until the proposed plan is given the OK. Board member Jeff Redick said the Islamic group had not shown the evidence required to approve the variance.
"The legal standard is that they have to show that there is legal hardship requiring the variance," Redick said. "There was no evidence of hardship. The information was not there to grant it."
Daniel said he would discuss a possible appeal of the decision with the group.
The vote came after the board sent the actual proposal for the mosque back to the zoning board because changes aimed at mitigating traffic issues in the area were added after the last meeting. Development committee chairman Anthony Michelassi said the changes required a review.
Daniel said a hearing on the proposal in front of the zoning board is expected Aug. 11.
The proposed 43,000-square-foot, two-story mosque, which the Muslim Community Association says would double as a community center, would be built along the south side of Roosevelt Road, just east of I-355. It would be bordered by Lawler Avenue on the east and the expected traffic on that street caused neighbors to object initially.
In a reworked plan, the group changed an exit on Lawler Avenue into an entrance-only and increased accessibility to Roosevelt Road.
But some residents said that was not enough. They said the new building would bring with it dangers such as motorists trying to go west on Roosevelt and problems with enforcement.
Additionally, they said multiple changes to the original plan left them confused.
"There are several different proposals," said Bernadette Kec, who lives near the site. "We don't know exactly where we stand right now and what the final proposal is at this time."
"Things have changed since the first time it was presented to us," said Marlena McCaleer, who said she lives about 200 feet from the site. "It is not what I bought the house for 35 years ago."
Despite the objections, which were balanced by several of the group's members and neighbors supporting the plan during Tuesday's meeting, Daniel said his client would be reluctant to make additional changes to the proposal.
"This is the plan we will run with," Daniel said.