Sun Prairie Plan Commission unanimously rejects mosque planThe city's Plan Commission is recommending that an Islamic mosque not be granted a permit to operate in the Nature's Preserve Office Park, citing opposition from neighboring businesses over traffic and parking concerns.
By: By Doug Erickson, The Wisconsin State Journal, Superior Telegram
SUN PRAIRIE -- The city's Plan Commission is recommending that an Islamic mosque not be granted a permit to operate in the Nature's Preserve Office Park, citing opposition from neighboring businesses over traffic and parking concerns.
The 6-0 commission vote against the permit application came Tuesday at a meeting attended by about 40 members and supporters of the mosque.
Afterward, Fayaz Suleman, the secretary and treasurer of the mosque board, said he was disappointed and unsure of the mosque's next move.
"Our faith believes we should love and respect our neighbors," he said. "We certainly didn't want to cause any problems."
Tuesday's vote was advisory only. The Sun Prairie City Council is expected to take up the issue May 3.
Suleman said the mosque board will need to discuss whether to continue pushing the issue or withdraw its application.
The mosque currently operates in a rented building at 2617 E. Washington Ave. in Madison and is called the Madison Muslim Dawa Circle. Members are hoping to relocate and rename themselves the Islamic Center of Sun Prairie.
Mosque leaders say they have an accepted offer to purchase a business condo in the 23-building office park. The site is in a section of the park where six buildings share 117 parking stalls.
The mosque needs a city conditional use permit to operate as an indoor institutional facility. City staff have recommended approval.
Dave Benforado, president of the condo association, said the main issue is the building's proposed capacity. The city planning department is recommending it be capped at 225 people. Benforado said the condo association "could live with" 100.
Suleman said the mosque is willing to compromise at 200. Mosque leaders have said the mosque's busiest time would be during weekly Friday afternoon prayers, when 80 to 90 people might be at the mosque for 30 to 60 minutes. Initially, 30 to 40 parking stalls would be needed, they said.
Representatives from the two sides met three times but didn't reach an agreement.
Commission member Cari Lee said the commission typically gives great weight to the views of homeowners associations and condo associations.
"I do think the folks who were there first ... they should have a very large voice, in my opinion," she said, adding later that she felt compelled to "respect what the association thinks is best for the body."
Commission member Brody Richter said the proposed use would further strain a site that already has vehicle access issues. Several commission members said they were concerned traffic problems would increase as the mosque grows.
Copyright (c) 2011, The Wisconsin State Journal
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