Islamic Center revises plans for Naperville mosque as negotiations with neighbors continue
The Islamic Center of Naperville has again revised its plans to build a mosque and multipurpose center on the southwest side of the city.
A construction phasing plan, a reduction in parking spaces, an increased buffer along property lines, and limitations on how and by whom the facility can be used are among the most recent changes proposed by project leaders in their efforts to compromise with concerned neighbors, attorney Len Monson told the planning and zoning commission Wednesday.
"We have and continue to negotiate in good faith with the (residents) in hopes of reaching an amicable and mutually beneficial agreement," he said.
The public hearing was continued until Aug. 18 at the request of Dan Shapiro, an attorney representing nearby homeowners groups, to give his clients time to "thoughtfully and carefully" review and respond to the updated proposal.
Plans call for building out the new Islamic Center campus along 248th Avenue in five phases over the next 40 years, starting with a mosque and later adding an educational center, a multipurpose hall, a gymnasium and an expansion of the worship space.
Negotiations have been ongoing since May with Shapiro on behalf of residents in the Tall Grass, Penncross Knoll and other adjacent subdivisions. The group, called "Neighbors in Favor of a Neighborhood Mosque," has indicated it supports the religious use but opposes the size, scope and other aspects of the project.
According to an email forwarded to the city by Monson, the Islamic Center has completely or partially agreed to 14 of the 17 parameters initially requested by Shapiro. Concessions include reducing total parking spaces from 901 to 725, dropping a variance request for a front-yard setback, reconfiguring the parking lot to provide additional space between residences, and adding a crossing guard and traffic control during peak worship hours, he said.
Additionally, Islamic Center leaders agreed that facility rentals will be limited to members only, open calls to prayer will be prohibited, and construction cannot move beyond the third phase until planned improvements to 248th Avenue are completed.
But in a recent update to the city, Monson said neighbors have since raised additional objections and have been unwilling to compromise on demands.
"Unfortunately, we feel that the objectors' efforts have not been commensurate with ours," he said.
The group of neighbors issued a statement to the Daily Herald on Thursday, expressing appreciation for the modifications that have been made so far.
"However, (the Islamic Center) has not addressed our core concerns regarding the magnitude of the structures, intensity and commercial nature of some of the proposed uses, as well as the increased traffic it will generate," the statement says. "We have a lot of common ground, and we look forward to welcoming a neighborhood mosque to our neighborhood."
After having a "fair opportunity" to review the Islamic Center's updated proposal, Shapiro said he and his clients plan to consult with experts and respond accordingly on Aug. 18.