Naperville commission recommends approval of mosque plans after nine months of hearings

  • After nine months of hearings, the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission gave its approval for the Islamic Center of Naperville to a build a mosque and multipurpose center on 248th Avenue. The issue next goes before the city council.

    After nine months of hearings, the Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission gave its approval for the Islamic Center of Naperville to a build a mosque and multipurpose center on 248th Avenue. The issue next goes before the city council. Courtesy of the Islamic Center of Naperville

 
 
Updated 10/7/2021 7:18 PM

After nine months of debate and testimony, a Naperville advisory panel is recommending approval of a new mosque, multipurpose center and gymnasium on the city's south side.

The Islamic Center of Naperville is seeking permission from the city to build the facility on 13 acres of open land at 3540 248th Ave. The ICN has a five-phase, 40-year vision for the property it's owned for about 10 years.

 

The city's planning and zoning commission reviewed the plan over the course of 15 hearings and heard from about 500 speakers. On Wednesday, the panel voted 6-1 in favor of the project.

The proposal now heads to the city council for final approval, although that likely won't happen until November, according to Naperville Director of Communications Linda LaCloche.

Before voting Wednesday on the plan, Bruce Hanson, chairman of the planning and zoning commission, said while the many concerns about the project were admirably presented, he felt they'd been addressed during the lengthy process.

"There's never a one size fits all on anything, and that's why this board exists," Hanson said. "Our role here is to do our best as residents and volunteers for the city of Naperville to take in all this information and try to make a determination."

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Commissioner Brett Fessler voted against the plan but made no comment about his vote. Commissioner Manas Athanikar was not in attendance at Wednesday's meeting.

The vote came after three hours of closing statements, and after city staff detailed 12 conditions for the ICN to accept. Eleven were accepted by ICN attorney Len Monson and the wording of a 12th was adjusted before being accepted.

Among the conditions agreed to were the ICN's responsibility for traffic management during the facility's busiest times, no construction after the second phase of the project until 248th Avenue is expanded, a school pickup plan for the second phase, splitting the cost with the city for a traffic signal at 248th Avenue and Honey Locust Drive, and no outdoor amplification of sound.

Attorney Dan Shapiro, representing Tall Grass, Penncross Knoll and other nearby subdivisions, said the surrounding residents are in favor of a mosque but oppose the additional construction they believe will lead to traffic congestion, parking problems and other issues.

Shapiro argued the 12 conditions offered by the city were a sign that the plan was flawed. Monson countered by saying the conditions were another way the ICN was being flexible to address residents' concerns.

When the proposal goes before the city council, the ICN representative will have 10 minutes to present the proposal. The public will be given a chance to comment and then the ICN representative will have five minutes for closing statements before the city council deliberates and votes.

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