We refer to this on Creeping Sharia as the “zoning jihad” and there are dozens of examples across the U.S. Read our previous coverage of the San Martin imposition here, here and here. The article below adds important additional details.
By Georgine Scott-Codiga
In a small rural area of Santa Clara County California lies a geographically unique area of land called San Martin, close to, but not of, Silicon Valley.
In 1981 the Board of Supervisors established the San Martin Planning Advisory Committee (SMPAC), the only entity of its kind in the county, to give local residents and land owners a voice in decisions affecting San Martin. Members were appointed by the Board of Supervisors to review interim land use policies, the San Martin Water Quality Study, and to make recommendation to the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors on land use matters of interest to the San Martin Community.
Special care was taken to protect these unique rural agricultural areas, rich in important resources, agriculture, mineral deposits, forests, and wildlife. Two years later the Board adopted ‘Special Area Plans’ to its General Plan. These policies limited overall growth and development in rural areas limiting them to non-urban low-density uses that supported the needs of the local community. The Plan sought to minimize the demand for public services (i.e. roads, Sheriff, postal, crime, graffiti control, etc.) and the cost to the general public for providing and maintaining these undeveloped rural areas.
In 2006, the South Valley Islamic Center proposed to build Cordoba Center (Cordoba) in the San Martin planning area. In 2011 Cordoba’s project description proposed a 5,000 sq. ft. mosque, 5,000 sq. ft. multipurpose hall, 1-2 covered patios for group picnic, bathrooms for picnic/retreat area.
The tight knit community of San Martin rallied together rejecting the project. They commented at numerous public meetings how the project was too large; unsustainable environmentally; uncharacteristic to San Martin; and that it violated the longtime ‘Local-Serving’ ordinances implemented decades earlier. Traditional Muslim beliefs forbid non-Muslims from being buried in their cemeteries and since less than 1/10th of 1% of the local residents are Muslim, Cordoba wasn’t considered to be of a ‘Local-Serving’ nature to the community.
Cordoba’s documents were scrutinized. Previous owners of Cordoba’s parcels had abandoned building permits due to failed percolation tests. Decades of observations by residents attested to flooding on the property and reported reverse direction of water flow, contradicting reports in Cordoba’s documents.
Cordoba’s application was on the heels of the San Martin perchlorate contamination. The Olin Corp. had improperly dumped toxic chemicals into the soil polluting hundreds of San Martin wells, forcing residents to rely on bottled water for years, some still doing so. This made the safety of the residents’ drinking water a priority when questioning Cordoba’s septic system and proposed ‘green’ cemetery. Almost all of San Martin residents rely on well water as their only source of drinking water. With no city water company or piped in water available, understandably, water is a major concern.
Muslim custom is to bury their dead directly into the ground without caskets or embalming. “Green” or natural cemeteries started popping up in the U.S. in 2007. A fairly recent addition, and with all neighboring entities to current green cemeteries having piped in city water available to them, there aren’t any studies on the effects of green burials (i.e, decaying bodies directly exposed to the soil) on nearby wells. Understandably, San Martin residents, demanded studies showing Cordoba’s proposed cemetery would be safe to their drinking water. To date, no studies have been provided.
In 2012, the County somehow excused Cordoba from obtaining an Environmental Impact Report (E.I.R.), allowing them to go forward with only a Mitigated Negative Declaration. A Negative Declaration is a document that states upon completion of an initial study that there is no substantial evidence that the project may have a significant effect on the environment. In contrast, an E.I.R. is an informational document that informs the public agency/public of significant environmental effects of a project, possible ways to minimize them and reasonable alternatives.
Local residents, noting the County’s willful desertion of its duty to protect and enforce the ordinances enacted to preserve their ‘Special Area’, filed a lawsuit against the County and Cordoba. The lawsuit resulted in Cordoba withdrawing its application, and executing a settlement agreement mandating it obtain an E.I.R. if they refiled.
Cordoba, apparently not willing to build anywhere else; i.e. in an urban area of the County devoid of numerous ‘Special Area’ ordinances or other restrictions on noise, traffic, septic, building design, etc., instead threatened to sue the County for violating federal RLUIPA law (Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act). Continue reading
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