Lombard mosque approved by DuPage County Board

I’ve been tracking this story in recent months (earlier stories here, here, and here) and it looks like we have a resolution: the DuPage County Board approved plans for a mosque in unincorporated Lombard.

By a 12-4 vote, board members supported revised plans from the Muslim Community Association of Western Suburbs for the Pin Oak Community Center. It will be built just east of Interstate Highway 355, at the southwest corner of Roosevelt Road and Lawler Avenue…

The plan had been controversial because of residents’ objections about traffic down Lawler Avenue into their neighborhood.

But the plan was modified to include an exit onto Roosevelt Road and restrictions on two access drives on Lawler. Also, the association will widen Lawler to three lanes and extend the eastbound lane on Roosevelt Road…

In July, board members deferred their vote on the Pin Oak proposal, but they did deny the group’s plan for a roughly 50-foot-tall dome on the property. The building will not be permitted to exceed 36 feet in height.

It would be interesting to hear the rationale of the 4 board members who voted against this.

The article suggests the controversy about this mosque was due to traffic concerns and the height of the building, typical NIMBY concerns that might be brought up with proposals for any religious structure or any non-religious, non-residential structure. I hope there is a sociologist (or other social scientist) working on testing whether proposals for mosques draw special “NIMBY” attention.

Small Islamic mosque in unincorporated Lombard approved by DuPage County Board

A small mosque for an unincorporated site near Lombard has been approved by the DuPage County Board:

Proclaim Truth Charitable Trust, which currently holds services in Villa Park, won approval to build a one-story, 5,200-square-foot brick and stone mosque on a 1-acre unincorporated site at 1620 S. Highland Avenue.

The board, by a vote of 13-4, endorsed plans for the group’s mosque at the same time that several other zoning applications to construct mosques elsewhere in unincorporated DuPage County have drawn significant opposition from neighbors. Proclaim Truth’s plans attracted minimal public opposition.

However, unlike the other area proposals, which include a recently approved 47,000-square-foot mosque near Willowbrook and a pending proposal for a 43,000-square-foot mosque on the south side of Roosevelt Road just east of Interstate Highway 355 near Lombard, Proclaim Truth plans to build a relatively small worship facility on its 1-acre property on Highland Avenue…

The mosque will have a full-service worship area that will hold no more than 150, along with a classroom for Saturday school, and a men’s and women’s lobby. In addition to the mosque, the group also will construct a 50-space parking lot.

Based on what I have read about this in the Chicago Tribune, here are several things that seemed to be working in this mosque’s favor:

1. When I wrote about this mosque on January 28, 2011, I noted that it sounded like this mosque had “a stronger welcome from residents in the neighborhood” compared to other proposals. This article seconds that idea.

2. The size of this mosque is pretty modest. I would guess this would affect how residential neighbors would view a proposed church, mosque, or other religious center with larger buildings attracting more negative attention.

3. Does it matter that this proposal was approved by DuPage County, which has control over some unincorporated land uses, as opposed to needing approval from a particular municipality? The article suggests other proposals for unincorporated land have drawn more opposition so it sounds like it is more about the neighbors than it is about who grants final approval.

4. Speaking of neighbors, if you look up the site, 1620 South Highland Avenue, Lombard, IL, Google Maps shows two nearby congregations: Chicago Christadelphian Ecclesia and Congregation Etz Chaim. Did the presence of these two groups drive the positive neighborhood response?

Mosque proposed for unincorporated site in DuPage County

The Chicago area has experienced several proposals in recent years for mosques to be built in the suburbs. Several proposals have been in DuPage County where communities or the County have rejected plans. There is a new proposal being brought forward now for an unincorporated site near Lombard, meaning it will be under review by DuPage County:

Proclaim Truth Charitable Trust is seeking a conditional-use permit that would allow it to demolish a 65-year-old single-family house along Highland Avenue and construct a new 5,200-square-foot mosque.

Sabet Siddiqui, the group’s representative, stressed to members of DuPage County’s zoning board of appeals Thursday night that the proposed mosque would be used by about 100 families who live in the area and currently attend services in Villa Park.

“Unlike other mosques and synagogues and churches that you folks have heard in the past, this is a different scale and different scope,” Siddiqui told the board. “It’s a small neighborhood mosque.”…

Siddiqui said he believes the mosque would be “a perfect fit” for a neighborhood that already has two churches and a synagogue. He said the brick and masonry structure is designed to “match the surrounding residences as much as possible.”

Almost all the residents who attended Thursday night’s public hearing voiced support for the plan, including a representative from neighboring Congregation Etz Chaim.

In comparison to some of the other cases, it sounds like this particular proposal is experiencing a stronger welcome from residents in the neighborhood.

It would be interesting to do a study of these cases that have popped up in recent years. Do Christian churches experience the same kind of process and complaints that mosques do? How exactly do nearby residents voice concerns – it is typical NIMBY material like traffic, parking, and noise or are there broader issues brought up in the cases of the mosques? Is the support or concerns about the proposed mosques tied more to the size of the mosque or is it more about the demographics of the surrounding neighborhood?