DuPage County delays vote on Islamic learning center
DuPage County officials say they intend to comply with a federal judge's ruling related to a planned Islamic education facility near Naperville.
But first they want a clarification about exactly what the judge wants them to do.
As a result, county board members on Tuesday postponed a scheduled vote to issue the conditional-use permit that would allow Irshad Learning Center to open in a residential neighborhood.
The delay came after a closed-door session, where some county board members raised questions about U.S. District Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer's decision to overturn a January 2010 vote by the board that denied the permit.
Pallmeyer found in her March 29 ruling the county board made an "arbitrary and capricious" decision by refusing to give the permit to Irshad Learning Center, which bought the property at 25W030 75th St. in 2008.
But some board members say the ruling is unclear about whether the county must issue the permit.
"The court did not say, 'You shall do X,'" said board member Robert Larsen, who is an attorney. "The court said, 'I disagree with what you did, and I expect you to re-look at this and then reach the conclusion that I reached. And that's the procedural problem that we're having."
Attorneys for the county plan to go back to Pallmeyer and ask the judge to clarify that point.
"Either you tell us we violated the rules and what we're going to do, or you let us make the decision," Larsen said. "You can't tell us to take another look at it and then tell us what decision to reach. That violates separation of powers."
County board Chairman Dan Cronin stressed after Tuesday's meeting that DuPage doesn't have any problem with complying with the judge's order.
He also said the county is willing to pay an unspecified amount of money to administrators from the Irshad Learning Center. They want compensation from DuPage to pay for their legal fees and expenses related to the property.
"We all agree with the order and the final resolution that she is seeking to get us to," Cronin said. "We have no dispute about that. There's no dispute about financial issues. We just have an issue with respect to the process."
None of the issues raised by board members are "deal-breaker concerns," Cronin said. He said board members just want to have a discussion about how to achieve the desired outcome.
"We just want to talk a little bit about how we get there," said Cronin, adding that county officials "would like to put the matter behind us sooner rather than later."
If the county approves the conditional use, the education center will be able to open in a former house. The previous owners of the building converted it into a private school in 1994.
Attorneys representing Irshad have said the group would like to open the facility sometime this year. Most of the residents who will use the center live in Naperville and surrounding towns.