CONNECTICUT: Norwalk Planning Committee unanimously recommends denying approval for a mega mosque

Hopefully, the full commission will also say ‘NO’ when they vote on the Islamic indoctrination center application June 6th at City Hall.

Norwalk Citizen  The Norwalk Zoning Commission‘s Plan Review Committee voted 3-0 Wednesday night to recommend denial of Al-Madany Islamic Center of Norwalk‘s proposal to build a mosque at 127 Fillow St.

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A rendering of proposed Islamic Indoctrination Center in Norwalk

The Al-Madany Islamic Center of Norwalk’s proposal, which was first submitted to the Planning and Zoning Commission in the spring of 2010, calls for a 27,000-square-foot building, including a prayer hall, classrooms and a community/recreational center, as well as 89 parking spots, on a 1.5- acre property. The property lies within a AAA residential zone, where places of worship are permitted by special permit.

The biggest point of contention for the planning committee and the other zoning commissioners was the community/recreation center and the lack of parking to accommodate it.

Typically with an accessory use building, no additional parking is required according to city regulations, but the majority of the commissioners believe that the 24,000-square-foot community/recreation center does not fit the definition of an accessory use space.

During a public hearing in April on the proposed mosque in Norwalk, teens from the Muslim community like the girl depicted here expressed their support of having a place to worship and learn about their religion

“By special permit regulations a community center is not a permitted used. Our regulations define a community center,” said commissioner Adam Blank. “And a community center is not permitted under any circumstances in a triple AAA zone. It’s not permitted as an accessory use.

“The proposal calls for eight classrooms, three offices, two libraries, a gymnasium, kitchen, counseling area and a community service room. I don’t know what a community center is if that’s not a community center.”

“You’ve got 3,000 square feet for the prayer hall area. You’ve got 24,000 square feet of other uses Whether you decide it’s a community center or not, 24,000 square feet of other uses are not accessory uses. And that doesn’t comply with our regulations,” Blank said. “There’s been no parking allocated for that 24,000 square feet of additional space, which there would certainly need to be if there were other principal uses for it. You’ve got no parking for 88 percent of the square footage.”

Umar Munshi stresses the importance of having a mosque in Norwalk to the young Muslim community at a public hearing to address a proposed mosque by the Al Madany Islamic Center of Norwalk

“If this was an as of right use, we wouldn’t be talking about this,” White continued. “I think it will be important for us after this application for us to go back and review the regulations. I don’t think the intent of the regulations is to allow the density of something like this in a residential neighborhood.”

No one from the public was allowed to speak during the special meeting, but if Farhan Memon could have, he would have respectfully said that the commissioners “are wrong on the facts and they are wrong on the law.”