As usual, against the wishes of an overwhelming majority of residents. Muslims don’t care about making friends or co-existing with neighbors. Despite what the city’s attorney claims, there is no compromise. This is a lose-lose for city residents and another zoning jihad litigation victory for Muslims backed by Obama. via Mosque settlement gets a thumbs up from Zoning | Nancy on Norwalk. h/t jms Follow jms’ updates in the comments section.
NORWALK, Conn. – Amidst waves of anger and resentment from local residents, the Norwalk Zoning Commission voted 4-3 Thursday night to approve the Al Madany Islamic Center mosque suit settlement and clear the way for the settlement to advance to the Common Council.
The vote came at the end of a public hearing that drew hundreds of people to a not-quite-full Concert Hall.
Zoning Chairman Joe Santo and Vice Chairwoman Emily Wilson, who helped hammer out the settlement, split on the vote, with Wilson voting against it. Also voting in favor were Nora King, Adam Blank and Nate Sumpter. Linda Kruk and Michael O’Reilly joined Wilson in voting no.
With the exception of Santo, a Republican, the vote broke along party lines, with three Democrats in favor and three Republicans against.
The settlement now goes to the Common Council for a vote on the financial aspects. The deal calls for $145,000 to be paid by the city and $162,500 by the city’s insurance company to the Al Madany legal team for expenses related to the suit. The city will also pay the Stonegate Condominium Association about $45,000 to install a gate across the parking lot entrance to keep non-residents from parking there.
The Council is expected to take up the item on Tuesday’s agenda (Sept. 9). Mayor Harry Rilling has called for an executive session at 6:30 p.m. Monday to discuss the settlement.
“We listened to all the comments and I think they all had valid points. I think we have a lot to digest and we’ll see where we go from here,” Rilling said.
Residents took turns bashing the idea of a mosque at 127 Fillow St. and claiming the city was being “bullied” into accepting it. Some said the issue had already caused property values to plunge as residents begin to move out.
At issue is Al Madany’s desire to build a 42,442-square-foot mosque and accessory building on 1.559 acres at 127 Fillow St. in West Norwalk. The Zoning Commission denied the application in 2012, citing the size of the project along with parking and traffic concerns. Al Madany then sued in June 2012, claiming that the project was within zoning parameters and that the city was causing an undue burden on the practice of its religion. After the judge in the case and the U.S. Attorney’s Office urged thee parties to find common ground, Al Madany and Norwalk entered settlement talks in January (see atttached settlement documents for changes in project).
Failing to settle and going to trial would be costly, the lawyers have said., reportedly anywhere from $ million if the city were to win and $10 million if it were to lose and be forced to pay Al Madany’s legal team. Thursday night, the ante went up: One lawyer said it cost Norwalk taxpayers $15 million to go to trial and lose.
Nationally recognized attorney Marci Hamilton, an expert on and ardent foe of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), told the crowd, “Your anger should be directed at the United States Congress” for passing the controversial RLUIPA law under which Al Madany filed suit.
“At issue is what is required under federal law. This attorney fee payout is the lowest I have ever seen.”
She said “You are dealing with a combination of land use and future tax burden,” and recommended settling the case.
Planning Commissioner Victor Cavallo made a point of order and said the Zoning Commission has no authority to vote on the issue because there is no application before it.
Former Corporation Council Peter Nolin said, “Shame, shame, shame on the lawyers,” calling their words bad advice and saying Norwalk should find the mosque a different location.”
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