DuPage mosque proposals get mixed reviews

 
 
Updated 6/21/2011 6:39 PM

Plans for two mosques near Lombard received differing responses Tuesday from the DuPage County Board's development committee.

The panel unanimously recommended that the full board grant permission for a small neighborhood mosque to be built along Highland Avenue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

But development committee members couldn't agree on Muslim Community Association of the Western Suburbs' proposal to construct a roughly 43,000-square-foot mosque on nearly 4 acres along the south side of Roosevelt Road, just east of I-355. The panel vote resulted in a 3-3 tie.

The county board is expected to consider both conditional-use permit requests next week during its regular meeting.

If approved, the 5,200-square-foot mosque that Proclaim Truth Charitable Trust wants to build at 1620 S. Highland Ave. would be used by about 100 families who live in the area and currently attend services in Villa Park.

The larger mosque -- Pin Oak Community Center -- would have two stories and serve 25 to 50 families. As part of its request, the group is seeking a height variance for a roughly 50-foot dome.

However, Milton Township officials and several neighbors have concerns about the mosque causing traffic backups at the intersection of Roosevelt and Lawler Avenue.

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"It all comes down to traffic," said Dirk Enger, who joined fellow development committee members Grant Eckhoff and Rita Gonzalez in rejecting the conditional-use permit request for Pin Oak.

Tony Michelassi said he voted in support of the Pin Oak plan because Muslim Community Association of the Western Suburbs is willing to work with the neighborhood. The group has said that anyone leaving the property won't be allowed to make a right turn onto Lawler. It also plans to widen part of Lawler and add dedicated turn lanes at Roosevelt.

"It (the plan) doesn't present the best possible situation for this property," Michelassi said. "But it doesn't present the worst, either." He said a higher intensity use would create greater problems for the neighborhood.