A Muslim group is making another attempt to get permission from DuPage County to transform an empty house near West Chicago into a mosque after “confusion” about the proposal forced the organization to withdraw an earlier application.
Islamic Center of Western Suburbs on Thursday night restarted the process of trying to get a conditional-use permit to have the house at 28W774 Army Trail Road declared a religious institution. Its new hearing before the county’s zoning board of appeals comes more than six months after the previous application was withdrawn.
Mark Daniel, the center’s new attorney, said the old plan was modified last spring to the point where it “should have been approved” by the county board.
However, he added: “There was a lot of stress toward the end of that one, and they withdrew their application because of the confusion.”
The new proposal incorporates all the changes made to the previous plan. For example, the group is no longer seeking an exception to front- and side-yard setback rules. It also is offering to comply with various restrictions, including one that limits the facility to no more than 30 worshippers at a time. The group says it won’t have major prayer events at the site.
Still, neighbors once again are expected to voice opposition to the project when the zoning panel hearing resumes on Jan. 30. They didn’t get an opportunity to speak during Thursday’s hearing.
Previously, residents have complained the house was built to be home for a family — not a religious institution.
The county in October adopted a new set of zoning law changes that, in part, prohibit groups from converting single-family houses into a places of assembly. But the new rules don’t apply projects already being reviewed, including Islamic Center of Western Suburbs.
While the center’s traffic consultant said a proposed 20-space parking lot will meet the mosque’s parking needs, neighbor Kevin Wiley said after Thursday’s hearing that traffic continues to be concern. He said residents don’t want worshippers driving or parking on neighboring Pine Court.
In response to another complaint from neighbors, the center hired a real estate appraiser to determine what impact the project would have on property values.
“The proposed use will not be injurious to the neighborhood and will not diminish the value of the land and the buildings in the vicinity,” the expert, Michael MaRous, told zoning board members.
Islamic Center of Western Suburbs was cited last year for zoning violations related to parking and non-permitted uses of the property. Daniel said that legal case was settled this week when the group agreed to pay $7,000 in fines to the county.
Despite worshipping at the house previously without a permit, Daniel said members of group haven’t used the location since May.
“The use has stopped,” Daniel said. “The county has been invited over there for inspection any time to verify that.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.