Islamic Center gains annexation into Naperville

 
 
Updated 12/19/2011 11:38 PM

Whether the Islamic Center of Naperville's next mosque is built five years from now or 20, it will be built according to the same rules and conditions as each of the city's other religious institutions.

City council members Monday unanimously approved the residential zoning and annexation of the center's 14-acre lot at 9931 S. 248th Ave. on the city's far southwest side in Will County. In doing so, they also rejected demands of neighboring homeowners to insert conditional restrictions on lighting, traffic and parking and the installation of berming and landscaping.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

There is a four-bedroom home on the property, which the previous owners, HOPE United Church of Christ, used for office space. The rest of the site is farmland.

The Islamic Center is preparing for a mosque members hope to build within five to 20 years.

"The biggest concern residents have is of the unknown and not knowing what will be constructed. A lot of concern residents brought up were of lighting, parking and traffic. Obviously those will be dealt with during the conditional use process as they come forward," said Jeremy Sentman, a surveyor and engineer consulting with the Tall Grass Homeowners Association. "We're asking you to insert conditions at the annexation process, right now, to have hard constraints that the petitioner would have to abide by moving forward, given the fact that we don't know how they will potentially develop the property."

Council members, however, said the request to add conditional use restrictions to a design plan that doesn't yet exist and for the same religious use is premature.

"I understand concerns of the neighborhoods, but I really think it's putting the cart way before the horse to ask for any specific conditions for annexation," Councilwoman Judy Brodhead said. "I understand what you might call the fear of the unknown. But I certainly would not be in favor of attaching any sorts of requirements to berming or anything that might have to change later on."

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City attorney Margo Ely also warned council members that they need to apply the same scrutiny to every annexation case.

Center President Ashraf Elessawy said he understands the Tall Grass community's concerns and promised that the center will continue to be good neighbors. The center has also agreed to share any future development plans with Tall Grass homeowners before approaching the city.

"The biggest factor is we worked to build an honest relationship with our neighbors and I think the city council saw that tonight," Elessawy said. "And we understand each other. I would ask for the same limitations if this were going to be built in my backyard."

With annexation now out of the way, Elessawy said it will be at least five years before the center will be able to afford to build on the property.

"I don't foresee us building before five years," he said. ""It wouldn't be financially feasible or needed."

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