Warren Planning Commission Accepts IONA Mosque Proposal

PRESS RELEASE:  April  11, 2006

Warren Planning Commission accepts IONA Mosque proposal

Following an intense two and a half-hour debate, the Planning Commission voted 5 - 3 to approve the revised proposal of the Islamic Organization of North America (IONA) to open a Mosque and Educational Center at 28630 Ryan Road in the city of Warren, Michigan.

The Commission meeting was attended by nearly 150 people, equally divided between those who favored the proposal, and those who did not.
IONA demonstrated in the revised proposal that their project met all the City of Warren ordinance requirements, including those considered for a 'special land use' request. This did little to still the dissent, both among some residents and commissioners alike.

Major issues remained, “Islamic Call to Prayer,” as well as traffic and parking concerns. In the revised proposal, IONA volunteered to enter a "Restrictive Covenant" excluding the use of loudspeakers outside the building for the prayer call. Some commission members remained unconvinced that the covenant was enforceable, or that the city could legally enter into the agreement.

Shereef Akeel, IONA legal council, noted that the deed restriction can be entered into county records unilaterally.  The Warren City Attorney advised the Planning Commission that the Zoning Board of Appeals made the restriction of loudspeakers a condition of the variance approval. A violation of this condition would deem the variance null and void.

Other objections voiced were not limited to material facts in the case. Comments included “how do we know a terrorist cell will not infiltrate the Mosque?” and a question of (ritual) “sacrifices” was also asked.

In support, some noted that “auto repair shops, liquor and adult book stores” might make worse neighbors than a house of worship.

IONA president and Imam Steve Elturk agreed to additional conditions suggested by the Planning Commission, including co-signing the “Restrictive Covenant” with the local homeowners association, and an increased performance bond for property improvements.

“We see the outcome of this meeting as favorable” said Elturk, “but it underscores the need for deeper understanding between Muslims and the community. It is natural for people to be apprehensive when someone new moves in. We will treat our neighbors with the utmost respect...good relations with neighbors is a requirement of Islamic belief.”

Islamic Organization of North America

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