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National expert: Settlement between Al Madany and Norwalk is ‘remarkable’

Attorney Marci Hamilton
Attorney Marci Hamilton praises the actions of both the administration of former Mayor Richard Moccia, left, and that of Mayor Harry Rilling, right.

NORWALK, Conn. – Lawyers representing both sides in the lawsuit filed by the Al Madany Islamic Center against the city of Norwalk are praising the proposed settlement that has just been unveiled to the public.

Most effusive in that praise is Marci Hamilton, a professor at the Cardozo Law School at Yeshiva University in New York and nationally renowned Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) expert, who was retained by the city in November 2012 by then-Mayor Richard Moccia.

“This is a remarkable settlement in that, first, all sides were given a voice, including Stonegate Condominiums, the neighbors, and the result is truly a compromise between everybody’s interests. So in my view it ought to be a model,” Hamilton said. “But in terms of dollars, it is very different from many of the settlements around the country because the city is not paying very much at all. They have been stalwart at saying ‘we will negotiate in good faith’ – and they have – but that they were not going to pay for the other side. So it’s a remarkable settlement. It’s very good for the city, it’s good for the people of Norwalk. So as compared to other cities that have kind of bargained away the interests of the neighbors, the city of Norwalk has stood up for everybody.”

“I think it is a good settlement from Al Madany’s perspective,” said Chris Bouchoux of WilmerHale, lawyer for Al Madany. “The most important goal for our client was that they see their rights vindicated and that they be able to construct and use, consistent with their faith, a mosque at the property that they own. This settlement will achieve that goal.”

A public hearing has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 4, by the Zoning Commission to discuss the details of the proposed settlement.

Parameters of the settlement, regarding the physical structure

Neighbors of the proposed mosque at 127 Fillow St. may get a religious institution in their midst, but the accessory building behind it will be significantly smaller than the one described in the plans denied by the Zoning Commission in June 2012. There’s also a sizable increase in parking.

“Al Madany agreed to replace the first floor of usable space in the accessory or recreational building with a parking deck,” said Joseph P. Williams of Shipman & Goodwin, who represents the Zoning Commission. “That move simultaneously decreases the amount of space to be used and increases considerably the amount of onsite parking. The amount of parking onsite increased by more than 50 percent and the amount of usable space in the rear building decreases by about 47 percent. There is, along with it, somewhat of a reduction of the height in the rear building by about a foot and a half and the depth of it by four feet and you lose a stairwell and some things, so our architect calculated a reduction in the mass of the building, like the cubic volume, by about 11 percent.”

This is not a view you will see.
This is not a view you will see. The settlement calls for significantly more landscaping in front of the Al Madany Islamic Center, Attorney Joseph Williams said.

There will be a “fairly significant increase in the size and amount of plantings on the property, particularly in the front,” Williams said.

Al Madany made a financial contribution to traffic calming measures for the site, although those measures have not been fully defined yet as city engineers and the Traffic Authority need to discuss them further, Williams said. Under consideration are stop signs at the intersection with Stepping Stone Road and “potentially a raised traffic table, which is basically like a long speed bump” at that intersection, and perhaps between the Stonegate Condominiums and the mosque.

What’s the dollar figure for the city?

“The Common Council will be asked to approve a payment of $145,000 to Al Madany, and the settlement agreement also provides for a contribution of $162,500 by the City’s insurance carrier, CIRMA, for a total payment to Al Madany of $307,500,” Williams said.

What might the dollar figure have been under different circumstances?

Asked how much Norwalk would have paid if the city went to court and lost, Williams offered up a potential ballpark figure of about $10 million.

A city might potentially be asked to pay the attorney’s fees for the plaintiff if it lost a case under religious statutes, he said.

“Al Madany, when we began negotiations, told us that the total costs in attorney’s fees were north of $5.5 million,” Williams said. “We’re a good portion of the way through the case, but probably maybe halfway through when you consider all the time that would be spent on a trial. So it’s possible that, if the case went all the way to a trial and Al Madany won, that it could have sought costs and attorney’s fees of more than $10 million. If they won, they would have sought that and they would have been awarded something – whether you get all of it, that’s in the discretion of the judge, but they were running them up pretty fast.”

Hamilton did not specify a dollar figure.

“It’s impossible to know because the cost is really related to the procedures you have to go through, and in many of these cases you can go all the way up to the Supreme Court just on the papers and not have to have a trial, which in a few of the cases they say you have to have a trial, and a trial is very expensive, lawyer-wise,” Hamilton said. “This is why RLUIPA is a club that can be used against local communities to get them to the settlement table earlier than they would otherwise. The biggest part of that club is to be able to bat the lawyer’s fees over the head of the city. In this case, the city is paying an extremely reasonable number. They are not underwriting the building of the mosque. The attorneys on the other side are not taking fees, and so that combination makes this different. It was good to see that everybody just sat down and said, ‘What can we do to make sure this mosque is built fairly without hurting the neighbors?’ That’s really what the consideration should have been with or without RLUIPA.”

 

Whose idea was a settlement?

“It was suggested by the court and it was suggested by the U.S. attorney,” Williams said, confirming what Mayor Harry Rilling has said since taking office. Rilling said shortly after taking office that, when the court suggests trying to reach a settlement, that is what you do.

Rilling had also expressed concern about the cost to Norwalk if the city rolled the dice and lost, saying at the time it could cost Norwalk taxpayers “millions” of dollars.

Asked if the U.S. attorney suggested a settlement because he thought Norwalk would lose, Williams said, “I don’t want to speak for what’s in the mind of a government official. With this kind of case I think the government tries to encourage the parties to get together. That may mean, if they’re encouraging one side or the other, it may mean that they may view there as being some weakness in the party’s case they are speaking to, but I don’t want to guess beyond that as to what they are thinking.”

 

When might Al Madany begin to build its mosque?

Bouchoux said he could not say when Al Madany might begin constructing a mosque. Farhan Memon, spokesman for the Al Madany Islamic Center, declined to comment on the settlement referring NoN to the lawyers.

Williams said, “I don’t have an outside date (for construction) because that, I believe, will really depend on Al Madany’s ability to get the necessary funds. I don’t know what their status is in that regard. The earliest they could get started is when they submit all necessary documents to obtain a building permit. I am not exactly sure how long it would take them to do that, but it would probably be within a couple of months of the Zoning Commission hearing.”

The Common Council will vote on the settlement after the Zoning Commission does, he said.

“Once that happens, the parties will submit the agreement to the court for approval and then the various deadlines and things will run from when the court approves it, but I don’t expect the court to take very long to do that. Then Al Madany is free whenever it’s ready to come in and seek a building permit,” Williams said.

 

The Norwalk Zoning Commission holds one of three public hearings on the proposed Al Madany Islamic Center in June 2012.

What about evidence?

The personal computers of zoning commissioners were examined as part of the legal proceeding because emails related to the lawsuit had been sent on them, Williams said. None of the emails that were found were used as evidence against the city, he said.

 

What about the process that led to a settlement?

“There were two forces going on here,” Hamilton said. “The city from the beginning was interested in two tracks, which was challenge RLUIPA’s constitutionality because RLUIPA is a bad law for cities, but at the same time they did want to find the middle ground if there was one and every client that I have in this field, I always say in the beginning, ‘If you can find a middle ground, do it.’ Because that’s what good people do, just find the middle ground because that’s how land use normally works. But in many circumstances they can’t find the middle ground and they end up litigating and it goes on forever. But in this case it was very clear from the beginning that both sides had some argument, but the better answer to the case was going to be to find that middle ground, and that’s what they did.”

“It’s been a lengthy negotiation, a lengthy settlement process,” Bouchoux said. “I think it’s one that has been well negotiated, forcibly negotiated by attorneys for both sides, but I think they have worked to achieve a good result for all involved. That includes Norwalk’s attorneys and their participation in the process as well.”

Adam Mocciolo of Pullman & Comley, lawyer for the Stonegate Condominium Association, was not available for comment.

 

Hamilton is crowing

“This is the best settlement that I have seen a city negotiate for its citizens of any of the settlements I have seen,” Hamilton said. “One of the reasons I say that is the city from the beginning has refused to be cowed by the RLUIPA club. That meant that they basically insisted on their neutral land use principals to guide this. By forcing it into neutral land use principals it followed what most ordinary land use force you to do.”
If an application for a housing development was denied, the Zoning Commission and the people behind it would talk it out and modify the application, she said. Neighbors would be consulted and the traffic pattern would be studied, she said.

“This is how land use was operating before RLUIPA, it’s how it should be operating and I give Norwalk a tremendous amount of credit for just sticking to principal, and for the mosque to also be willing to just say, ‘OK, we really want to be able to build our mosque. We don’t really want to be in litigation for years and years.’ So I was really glad to see the rational heads prevail, but, to be honest, I’ve been impressed with Norwalk from the beginning because the city had an interest in challenging constitutionality.

“Even with a good result like this, this case should never have been filed, in my view. I think RLUIPA is a very bad law. I think it’s unconstitutional, it’s unfair to local governments. But once the lower court rightly said ‘I can’t hold it unconstitutional, it’s going to have to go up to the Second Circuit,’ then the city had to decide. Is it going to continue to litigate or is it going to try to figure out the answer? I encouraged it to settle, not because I thought the facts were against the city, but because I always think it’s better to figure that out if you can. So they done good.”

 

Hamilton: Norwalk is a benchmark

“The message to other cities is that when lawyers for religious organizations start raising RLUIPA you just need to keep your sanity and the result is not catastrophic if the city holds firm to its neutral principals,” Hamilton said. “In this case, the next time a lawyer says to a city, ‘Well, you’d better do what we say you’re going to be paying $3 million in attorney’s fees,’ the short answer to that is ‘Norwalk.’ That’s not what’s happening in Norwalk and it doesn’t need to happen in these cases.”

 

Comments

44 responses to “National expert: Settlement between Al Madany and Norwalk is ‘remarkable’”

  1. anon

    @Chapman, comments from Stonegate and West Norwalk neighborhood associations would add to this article.

  2. One and Done

    The payment should be $0 and there should be no parking deck. Where else in this neighborhood is a parking deck? How is this a win for the city? There goes the neighborhood. Which one are we going to destroy next?

  3. Don’t Panic

    From a pure legal perspective, this is an excellent result. Until the new plans are presented, it is hard to say whether the resulting building will be better than what was presented before.

  4. Bruce Kimmel

    This is an excellent article. It is a service to the community. Thank you, Nancy.

  5. Bruce Kimmel

    It should be noted that the city was in a very difficult situation and faced three scenarios:
    .
    1. The city settles, in which case, as indicated above, the costs to the city are small, and the structure that is built is considerably smaller than what was presented to the zoning commission.
    .
    2. The city does not settle and wins in court, in which case the costs are between four and five million and the original version of the mosque is not built. However — and this is a gargantuan however: Several months after the city prevailed, Al Madany would be allowed to present the scaled down version of the mosque to the zoning commission, and if zoning denied the application the city would again be accused of religious discrimination and the process would begin again.
    .
    3. The city does not settle and loses in court, in which case the costs could be as high as ten million, as indicated above, and the larger version of the mosque gets built.
    .
    It is also important to stress that the lawyers in this case were top notch on both sides, and were undoubtedly mindful of the fact that the city, over the years, had approved numerous applications to build and expand religious organization in residential neighborhoods, some of which have traffic that is more dense than along Fillow Street.
    .
    I would like to commend Mayor Rilling and Mario Coppola, the city’s corporation counsel, for the level-headed way they proceeded.

  6. EDR

    I really don’t have issue with the construction of a religious institution in West Norwalk, but a parking deck? Please Explain to me how this is different that say BJ”s. Let’s see a small site with over development, a crowded roadway, and bad turning radii and site lines.. It does not meet the criteria for stable traffic flow,

    No matter what anyone says if were a zoning commissioner I would still vote no for this very reason. Does not pass muster with respect to traffic.

  7. Bill

    We let Muslims build their houses of worship in our country, and we end up having to pay them money, yet go to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, or Iraq, and try to build a Christian church or jewish synagogue and see what happens.

  8. John Levin

    Bruce, I appreciate your comments, which greatly help to flesh out the story. And I agree, NancyOnNorwalk.com provides a great service to our town and its many communities.

  9. John Hamlin

    The real lesson from all of this is the need for zoning reform so that neighborhoods and property owners are protected from unwanted overdevelopment and from the abuses from individual property owners. If a municipality won’t protect the investments of property owners, then no one will want to invest in proper in that municipality. This is something that Norwalk, unlike surrounding towns, has yet to learn. Here, the West Norwalk neighborhood will not be enhanced by this development at all — the surrounding properties will clearly lose substantial value as a result of this. And the zoning laws should have protected but clearly did not protect the surrounding property owners from the whims of the individual property owners — whether it’s against building an oversized mosque, an unwanted commercial building, or just allowing a blighted eyesore. I wonder whether the surrounding property owners will have a legal claim for the drop in their property values as a result of the city for settling this lawsuit and allowing this structure to be built? Are we trading one lawsuit for another one more difficult to win? The main concern here seems to be to avoid legal fees — let’s hope that’s how it ends up.

  10. anon

    @Bruce, this isn’t your neighborhood. @Bruce, scenario #2 assumes they wouldn’t ‘blink’, Norwalk did instead. @Bruce, public was told Rilling and Cappola didn’t have a part in this, according to you they did.

  11. DeeeeMoooo

    @Bill: yet go to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, or Iraq, and try to build a Christian church or jewish synagogue and see what happens.
    .
    Are you suggesting that, in Norwalk, in this case, religious discrimination would somehow be justified? Shame on you for insinuating something very un-American.

  12. Maria Cenatiempo

    Mr. Kimmel, it sounds as if you have no considerations for the neighborhood. You seem to be willing to trade a few dollars in savings for the value of every house in my neighborhood and the massive amounts of traffic and congestion this will bring. When the BJs plan was a little closer to home, it was all about the people, but now we don’t count?

    The most telling quote is “The most important goal for our client was that they see their rights vindicated and that they be able to construct and use, consistent with their faith, a mosque at the property that they own. This settlement will achieve that goal.”

    That means the city is being forced to accept a deal in which they are saying the process was racist and that we somehow, by rejecting a proposal that was outrageous according to everyone, were acting in a racist manner.

    Mayor Rilling you didn’t need to listen to that judge, they all say “you should settle” but our neighborhood is worth fighting for. Our neighborhood isn’t a political pawn for you to play with. How dare you abandon us, how dare you allow this group to carry the day and their claims of racism!

  13. Ark

    Shameful sell out. Of course the lawyers support they are being paid by Mayor Rilling and attorney Copolla. More parking means more people and more traffic. Kimmel how hypocritical: BJs in your neighbourhood is bad Monster parking deck in Kendal and West Norwalk residential zone and you sell out to suck up to Harry. Zoning must vote no!

  14. Mea

    Please explain to me how every side was given a voice? A 120 historic home is being torn down and the aesthetic of a neighborhood is being destroyed, this is what the neighbors wanted?

  15. Ark

    Also city buying off Stonegate with

    $60,000. Whole thing stinks. Rilling is a quizzling who had this double cross planned before election. He promised he wouldn’t settle and first thing he did after election was to settle case out from under us.

  16. Scott

    Did the footprint of the building change significantly or just the square footage of “living” space. They are being allowed to build something more than TEN times the size of my house on a property that is only 5 times larger than mine. And we’re paying them for trumped up discrimination charges. Go and try to get a shed permit for your property (because you need one believe it or not even for a simple 7′ x 9′ aluminum shed with no foundation) . You’d be surprised where on your property you’re not allowed to put it. But I have a solution – start your own religion (legally with tax exempt status and all) and then let your shed be your church. I bet you can put it anywhere you’d like and get paid for it. Sounds a little ridiculous doesn’t it. There’s not much difference.

  17. One and Done

    So Bruce Kimmel, councilman has his mind made up. Has decided that 100s of millions of dollars in lost property values for the thousands of houses and people this effects is ok. He has indicated he is going to vote to destroy West Norwalk. Great job Bruce. Glad you have our best interests at heart. Put the for sale sign up now. This city is doomed.

  18. One and Done

    Alternatively, the city could have paid fair market value for the property of about $600k give or take. The monetary aspect of this is a slap in the face to everyone.

  19. srb

    Scott, you’re right, religious organizations have more rights than the average citizen but this isn’t Norwalk’s fault, this was part of the conservative/moral majority agenda from long ago. It passed and put enormous limits on what cities could do about religious building sites. Mamaroneck NY had to pay through the nose because of it. In contrast Bill your statement is frightening in its lack of understanding about what is American. The Mosque is in America and should be treated no differently than a church or a synagogue, the fact that a foreign country would treat it differently is irrelevant. If anything Bill’s comment is exactly what would cause the City to lose in a court of law–it’s proof of prejudice.

  20. LWitherspoon

    Perhaps the headline for this article should be “Lawyers paid by the City say the City officials paying them are very wise”
    .
    Mayor Rilling states that settlement discussions were suggested by a judge. While true, the judge doesn’t mandate any outcome. Parties can discuss a settlement and fail to reach one. Isn’t it true that the City’s Corporation Counsel, appointed by and serving at the Mayor’s pleasure, takes direction from him?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @Witherspoon

      It would be true that Corporation Counsel reports to the mayor. It would also be true that the previous mayor hired the outside legal team that the current corp counsel deferred to. Marci Hamilton is one of the nation’s top experts in this field and, call me crazy, but I have my doubts she would put that reputation on the line by saying it was a “remarkable” settlement and set the standard for other cities to follow if she didn’t mean it. And, as a reminder, while Rilling could direct counsel to negotiate a settlement, he gets no vote in the acceptance of the settlement.

  21. Suzanne

    While this maybe a “remarkable” result to an attorney who works in the field, I would say that her lens is focused on what she knows how to litigate (RLIPA) and question the validity of that law in the first place.
    *
    I know why West Norwalkers fill screwed. As soon as the big box stores went up on 1, our quiet little street became a racetrack with much heavier traffic at high speeds. Why? Because people take our little street and use it as a cut-off to those same stores.
    *
    Some people on this thread are right: if any citizen wanted to put a large house on that property that exceeded the existing Zoning Code, the answer would have been a resounding “No.” Likewise, an apartment building or any other type of dwelling that did not include a religious utility.
    *
    I maintain that the prejudice lies with the law that says a religious building can be put anywhere no matter how impractical, impacting or unsuitable it is for the land. This is a travesty and speaks to a religious freedom gone wrong.
    *
    I remain concerned at the traffic issues, especially during special holidays, in spite of the stop signs and “possible” rumble strips on the curved hill with its steep roadway.
    *
    Likewise, if people are using our little road now as a cut-off to 1, what is to prevent them using it for special holidays at the Mosque? Or regular use at the Mosque? Nothing. Norwalk has refused to put in speed bumps or any other type of traffic calming measure in spite of frequent pedestrian use as well as runners and bicycles.
    *
    I don’t know why Norwalk could not have just bought out the Mosque as mentioned and/or made a swap with available land that is more appropriate. This group used prejudice as an excuse to throw their weight around and guess what? It works in Norwalk.

  22. Kathleen Montgomery

    I am not quite sure how or where the racist label was apparent in this well-explained article but I am VERY sure that I don’t wish to hear that word applied without concrete evidence. My question is this: does every religious institution that bought a property with the intent of building a church, synagogue, mosque and whatever serve to lower property taxes? How about the neighborhoods around current churches and synagogues? Are the surrounding homes devalued? This is an honest question intended to inform me, and I suspect others as well.

    I understand that traffic is an issue and look forward to details on how that will be resolved. Knowing if the footprint of the building will detract from the value of homes will be interesting to hear more about. Anybody know about the devaluing issue in real terms?

  23. inquiring mind

    Many Mosque’s have call to prayer, on public address systems, several times a day, beginning an hour or so before sunrise. Are there any notations on usage of public audio equipment for this mosque? Imagine it will be quite a surprise for neighbors being awoken at 4 am with off key arabic singing, blaring through the hollows. Wont do much for the wildlife sleeping patterns either.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @inquiring mind

      As noted in the story and attached documents, this practiced is specifically and expressly forbidden as part of the agreement.

  24. EveT

    What is the purpose of the public hearing on Sept 4? Can comments from the public actually have any effect? It sounds like the decisions are made and the deal is done, no?

  25. Suzanne

    EveT: Exactly.

  26. EveT

    Folks seem to be in denial about RLUIPA. While it may be “a very bad law” and perhaps even unconstitutional, it’s the law. Congress would need to overturn it. The city of Norwalk can’t simply decide that we don’t want to abide by it.
    According to one legal expert, “While the law was designed to protect religious groups against prejudicial local zoning, it also disenfranchises existing residents by forcing them to adopt a community environment that is negative to what they have agreed should be planned development. You can’t have balanced law if it promotes one group over others, and that is what RLUIPA does.”
    http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2014/05/22/rluipa-rockland-land-use-environment/9458553/

  27. Joe

    Boy, I’m glad I don’t live there.

  28. Joe

    My wife tells me these people are going to be slamming car doors every morning at dawn to do their first of five prayer sessions?

  29. inquiring mind

    Ok thank you Mark, must’ve missed the reference in this post along with the documents you mention.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @inquiring

      The info and attachments are with the article that accompanies this one. It has the nuts and bolts of the agreement. Sorry for the confusion

  30. piberman

    By leaking the proposed settlement before public and Council hearings public officials are obviously intending to minimize public review and dictate results. Councilman Kimmel would better serve the City by refraining from public comments before review. And he might want to learn about the Roxbury case where litigation lasted 20 years to achieve an equitable result. Unless his purpose is to prejudge the result with huge estimates of litigation. Is the Counilman violating secret discussions of the Council by discussing the case ? Or is the retired school teacher now the Council’s legal eagle ?

    1. Mark Chapman

      @berman

      Wrong again. Mr. Kimmel did not leak anything. The attorneys on both sides gave the information quite freely after the legal notice ran in the local print paper. And the financial estimates he
      Mentioned we’re not from the councilman, but from the lawyers, the ones who charge the fees. The idea is for people to have accurate information before they discuss it . Strange concept for some people, but you should try it sometime.

  31. Very Concerned

    This is bad for residential Norwalk.

    There goes the residential neighborhood.

    There goes the good schools: Kendall and Ponus Ridge.

    Here comes more car accidents on the corner of Fillow and North Taylor Avenue.

  32. One and Done

    Regardless of who leaked the outcome, Bruce seems on board and very pleased to ruin the neighborhood. Hopefully the pedestrians and cars that will eventually collide in this intersection will be braver in recovery than the councilman has been doing his job. I say rename the intersection Kimmel Corner in a tribute. Generations to come can thank the councilman for destroying the area.

  33. @Anon
    This story was done Friday night, when most people were starting their weekend and not available to respond. I called Stonegate resident Israel Herskowitz but he declined to comment. The attorney who represents Stonegate was not available. We emailed him and have not gotten a reply from him yet.
    Mark has reached out to West Norwalk residents and has gotten one reply.
    There will be more articles on this topic. We hope to bring our readers information on how people in the neighborhood feel about this.
    Most of the comments are being done anonymously. Would you like to go on the record with some thoughts?

  34. Once again, no one “leaked” the outcome. The information was released by the legal teams of both sides, as previously explained.

  35. One and Done

    Regardless of whether the outcome was leaked or not, you have a councilman who lives in Cranbury on record here stating that he knows what is best for the 1000s of residents this directly affects.

  36. peter parker

    This whole process has been a waste of time and money, and Rilling is to blame for the final outcome. Rilling should and will be a one term Mayor, he is incompetent and paralyzed by his inability to make a judgment call. He’s always sitting on the fence. Harry get off the fence and take a stand for something other than the cameras.

  37. One and Done

    @Spider-Watts. Plenty of blame to spread around weak kneed councilman who live on the other side of town. Let’s see if the Zoning board of which none of whom live nearby have the same lack of courage.
    .
    Bruce Kimmel missed a few other potential risks the city faces. Loss of tens of millions of dollars in market value of adjoining real estate shadowed over by a leviathan of a building that is still against regulations on the books. The 80 foot tower is over the 35 building height allowed and the footprint of the farmhouse plus the proposal is well over the 25% coverage allowed. For this reason disaffected adjoining property owners will be able to sue the city for hundreds of millions in lost property values. And that is just one risk point.
    .
    The one everyone should be worried about is what message does this send to anyone outside of Norwalk who would think of buying here? If the 25,000 odd homes in town were valued at just $20,000 less we would be talking about 1/2 a billion dollars. The downward spiral of real estate valuations could eventually turn us into a Bridgeport.

  38. K.C

    So basically this was all about money and politics which are always corrupt. And Rilling, you should be thrown out of office, you hypocrite, because you know damn well if you lived across the street you would not be saying the same thing. If you look at the zoning and wet lands, traffic accidents, schools within walking distance, traffic patterns you’d know this is the worst place for a structure of this magnitude.

  39. Dennis DiManis

    So if I apply for a permit to build a bowling alley in my AAA neighborhood, I’ll get laughed at. Then, if I re-apply as a RELIGIOUS bowling alley where the bowlers worship and hear sermons in between frames, and I indicate willingness to take any dispute all the way to the Supreme Court it’ll win approval because Norwalk can’t afford to pay it’s lawyers.

  40. Average Joe

    If the Al Madany Mosque was really interested in being an integral part of this community they would have reached out to the community leaders before buying a piece of land that was too small to accommodate their plans. Now they are crying discrimination and there are talks of a settlement.

    THIS IS A JOKE! OUR LEADERS ARE SELLING US OUT!

    I urge all of the neighbors to come out on September 4th and let your voice be heard.

    Also, let me be clear… this is not about stopping a mosque from being built… this is about stopping a structure well too large for the current property and the increased traffic burden for the residental location.

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