Lawsuit brought by Bosnian Muslim congregation against Des Plaines

A Bosnian Muslim group that was turned down by the Des Plaines City Council in regard to converting a building into a mosque has filed a lawsuit against the suburb:

But aldermen say allowing any house of worship in an industrial park would endanger pedestrians and impede neighboring manufacturers.

“I don’t care if they’re Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, whatever. It’s not zoned for that particular area,” said Ald. Mark Walsten, who was named in the suit because he voted against an amendment to accommodate the mosque. “Whenever there are children involved in an industrial area, I will not have that on my conscience.”

Members of the American Islamic Center, who have rented space in a Rolling Meadows mosque since March 2011, had hoped to purchase the vacant building, formerly occupied by an insurance company. Many of the center’s 160 members fled Bosnia in the 1990s to escape war and genocide.

In fact, Bosnian immigrants opened the first mosque in Chicago almost a century ago, Agic said, and Illinois has the nation’s largest Bosnian-born population…

The Des Plaines Plan Commission unanimously recommended a zoning amendment to accommodate the center. But in July, the City Council voted down the proposed amendment.

Classic suburban case: zoning laws against the ability of residents to pursue their interests. And the Des Plaines City Council is appealing to safety and business concerns. There have been several cases in recent years in the Chicago suburbs having to do with requests from Muslim groups being denied by suburban communities. See this case involving DuPage County near Naperville, this case near West Chicago, and and this case in Lombard.

It is not unusual for a Plan Commission to recommend one thing and the City Council to vote the other way but it would still be interesting to hear their different reasons.

One thought on “Lawsuit brought by Bosnian Muslim congregation against Des Plaines

  1. Pingback: Publication in Soc Quarterly: “Would Prefer a Trailer Park to a Large [Religious] Building” | Legally Sociable

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