DuPage County Board votes 16-0 for new regulations for proposed religious congregations

Amidst a number of proposed mosques in DuPage County (see the latest example just south of Naperville), the DuPage County Board voted unanimously on Wednesday to institute new regulations for religious congregations:

The measure, approved 16-0, came in the wake of five recent applications for new Islamic centers or mosques in residential areas in the county over the last two years. Three of those applications were approved by the board, one near Naperville was rejected, and one near West Chicago is pending. The new regulations would not affect those applications or other existing facilities.

Under the changes, a new place of assembly will be prohibited in a single-family house without a variance granted by the County Board. Variances also will be needed for any facility, regardless of its size, that does not have primary access on an arterial street or is not hooked up to public sewer and water service.

The county originally had considered barring all new places of assembly from unincorporated residential neighborhoods, but the board scaled back on that plan during the committee process. Along with religious houses of worship, the measure applies to other gathering spots, such as lodges for veterans groups.

Several quick thoughts:

1. I’m glad they scaled back their plans. No new religious buildings in unincorporated residential neighborhoods?

2. I wish these articles say how much land this applies to in DuPage County. These regulations cover unincorporated areas in the county, not land that is part of a municipality. Individual municipalities can develop their own zoning regulations.

3. Here is the reasoning behind these new regulations:

Board member Jim Zay, R-Carol Stream, said the measure is necessary to control disruptive changes to neighborhoods.

“What we’re worried about is people’s property rights,” Zay said. “In our district, we have a lot of single-family homes being bought, and the next thing you know, there are 25 cars in the driveway, and (neighbors) are up in arms.”

Translation: “disruptive changes” are bad for property values. In other words, having religious assemblies in houses or veteran’s groups meet in houses would bring down the whole neighborhood.

4. What exactly would the Board say precipitated this move? Why don’t reporters ask the Board members?

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