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Article updated: 3/30/2013 2:05 PM

Judge gives green light to Islamic center in DuPage Co.

By Elena Ferrarin

A federal judge found in favor of an Islamic group's request to build an educational center near Naperville, after it was rejected by the DuPage County Board more than three years ago.

The federal lawsuit against DuPage County was filed in April 2010, three months after DuPage County Board voted 10-7 to deny a conditional-use permit for the Irshad Learning Center, which purchased a property at 25W030 75th St. in unincorporated DuPage County near Naperville.

The lawsuit was filed by the Council on American-Islamic Relations on behalf of administrators of the center, claiming its constitutional rights were violated.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer found in her Friday ruling no evidence that the county board denied the permit on the basis of discrimination, but found its decision to be "arbitrary and capricious."

"The county's repeated errors, speculation and refusal to impose conditions support an inference that the county subjected ILC to a substantial burden," the judge found.

When they denied the permit in 2010, a majority of board members said they were concerned about the operation of the facility in a residential neighborhood.

However, Judge Pallmeyer found no evidence that the ILC would impact public safety or traffic congestion, while its potential impact on property values would be "merely speculative," she said.

Unless circumstances change, Pallmeyer wrote, she anticipated the county board will order the issuance of the conditional-use permit while restricting the number of parking spaces to 27, and adding a few conditions proposed during a county board meeting in November 2009.

Johnna Kelly, spokeswoman for the DuPage County Board, said Saturday county officials are reviewing the ruling and there would be no immediate comment. Representatives from the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the state's attorney's office couldn't be reached for comment Saturday. A number listed on the Irshad Learning Center website was disconnected.

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