*It wasn’t voted down as the NJ.com headline below states, in fact it was passed 4-3 in favor but it did not get enough total votes.
BAYONNE — An application to establish a Muslim community center at 109 East 24th St. did not garner the requisite number of votes during a special Bayonne Zoning Board meeting Monday night and failed to pass.
The seven-member board voted 4-3 in favor of the proposal, which needed a minimum of five affirmative votes in order to pass.
The board’s vote came at the end of a raucous five-hour public meeting at Bayonne High School, which saw dozens of people air their opinions and concerns on the matter. Those who voted against the plan cited traffic and parking issues on the dead-end street the Muslim community center was planned for. Two alternate commissioners who were at the meeting said they would have voted against the proposal.
The meeting, which began at 6 p.m., started with testimony from only one witness — John McDonough, a licensed professional planner — who told the board that the community center would not conflict with regular peak parking hours for the surrounding area.
“This land use by its very nature protects the public good,” McDonough told the board.
Nonetheless, the board — which was largely split on the issue — voted down the Bayonne Muslims’ application, with multiple commissioners stating that the center would not be appropriate for the area.
Many of the board members stated before casting their votes that they were disappointed from both sides of the issue.
“As a Bayonne resident, I’m embarrassed at some of the comments I heard tonight,” said Mark Urban, chairman of the board.
Just before 11 p.m., tensions were high when a Bayonne resident — during the open public comment — began negatively citing Quran verses as reason against approving the application.
The meeting was brought to an abrupt recess after conflict began to rise in the audience of hundreds of people.
[How could conflict arise, Islam is a religion of peace isn’t it?]
Afterward, Urban told the audience that no more comments on religion would be addressed from the audience.
“We’re not going there,” he told the audience. “This is a zoning issue only.”
[A zoning issue for a “religious” compound…that teaches in its’ holy book to kill the unbelievers – that would be the majority of the Bayonne population!]
As a “high density property,” the proposal for the Muslim community center needed special zoning variances for parking and for the buffer required between the site and adjacent properties. As a result, a minimum of five votes were needed for the proposal to pass.
When the vote finally came, those opposed to the proposal applauded.
The nonprofit group Bayonne Muslims had been working since August 2015 to open a community center that would offer, among other things, prayer halls, classrooms and a soup kitchen and would establish a permanent home for the group.
For years, the Muslim community has been renting out the basement of the closed St. Henry’s School at 27th Street and Avenue C as a temporary place of worship.
The Zoning Board was first scheduled to vote on the proposal in January 2016, but the vote was postponed after two expert witnesses were left to be heard from.
The second vote was postponed after Bill Finnerty, the attorney representing the Bayonne Muslim group, had a health issue. The vote was postponed a third time in May 2016 after a request for additional time to update a traffic study. The fourth postponement was needed by the Muslim group in order to finalize the study.
The most recent meeting, which was held in January, ended after nearly five hours after the board still had not heard from the last expert witness — who was finally heard from Monday night.
Since the proposal emerged in August 2015, the Muslim community center has been one of Bayonne’s hot-button issues.
Tensions were high when Muslims arriving at their place of worship in the basement of the St. Henry’s School building in October were met with anti-Muslim graffiti on the windows and walls outside the building. An arrest was subsequently made.
Meanwhile, a local pastor — who had stated his opposition against the center and has kept signs in his window reading “Stop the Mosque” and “Save Bayonne” — had his house and property vandalized by graffiti in December of last year.
His wife several months earlier was also reportedly harassed by a man for the signs in their window.
The pastor’s house was reportedly vandalized for 4th time after opposing the mosque and questioning sharia law.
It should be reiterated that a key issue totally ignored by officials in Bayonne is that the leader of the Muslim group seeking the mosque was a NJ contact for a Pre 9/11 Muslim Youth Jihad Camp in 2001 right here in the United States. Read more at the links above.
Law enforcement should be investigating.
Update: In neighboring, booze-heavy Hoboken, the mayor is ready to submit her citizenry to Islam:
Apparently she doesn’t check with her constituents before selling the city out. Zimmer can be contacted here, or here, or on Twitter. The comments to her tweet above indicate what you will be dealing with.