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Neighbors of proposed Norwalk mosque to city: Please don’t

NORWALK, Conn. – An email campaign has begun to urge Norwalk zoning commissioners, the mayor and the Common Council not to authorize the settlement that has been proposed in the lawsuit filed by the Al Madany Islamic Center against the city after its application to build a mosque at 127 Fillow St. was denied.

Almost all of the 36 emails received by city officials Wednesday contain the following passage:

“I oppose the settlement that is proposed for the Al Madany Mosque case. The neighborhood should remain residential, but if the group wants to build here, they should develop a reasonable plan, based on reasonable Zoning Standards. I do not, and never have, opposed this development because of any religious reasons, but merely do not want our neighborhood to become jammed with traffic and decline because of a political deal. I also see the original plan and the settlement plan as being far too large, inappropriate in scale, and we know it will have a serious effect on the property values in our neighborhood. The impacts of traffic, noise and increased potential for parking issues as well as accidents have me concerned. I feel the Zoning Commission did nothing wrong in its initial denial of the application. The city should defend its neighborhoods. The city should not cave in because of threats of lawsuits and a completely untrue and unproven accusation of religious persecution.”

There were no emails before Wednesday, Assistant Planning and Zoning Director Mike Wrinn said.

Everyone who wrote something additional took care to say that their opposition was not based on religious grounds. One, from a Realtor, says that property values have already declined. All of them mention traffic. One asserts that the prayer call doesn’t belong in a residential neighborhood – although the settlement stipulates no prayer calls.

Six of the emails suggest that there must be a better place to put the mosque:

“Please, please do not allow this enormous building to be built in our residential neighborhood. The plan does not fit the property. There must be a better location in Norwalk for a project of this size. I support the building of a mosque in Norwalk, I know there is a need in our community. This just isn’t the spot for it,” Sue Kelley said.

“There are more suitable locations for such a big building,” Lori Paladino said.

“The mosque should be built in the center of the city around 95/7 to allow for the traffic,” Julie Burton said.

Attorney Chris Bouchoux of WilmerHale, who represents Al Madany, answered those concerns in an email to NancyOnNorwalk.

“Al Madany conducted a diligent search for a property within Norwalk that was zoned to permit a place of worship and would allow for the construction and operation of a mosque consistent with the congregation’s religious needs. Working with a Realtor, Al Madany reviewed approximately 50 sites before determining that 127 Fillow St. was the most suitable property available,” Bouchoux said.

Marsha Vetare said in her email to the city that she has lived in Norwalk all her life and owns a home in the Kendall area.

“I am appalled that this matter has come this far and that our rights, as taxpayers and homeowners, are not being protected by the City,” Vetare wrote. “I think it is atrocious that the City is not fighting on our behalf and defending OUR rights and OUR neighborhood and is allowing Al Madany to bully them into forcing this huge structure on this small piece of property. And on top of that to pay THEM in the settlement?”

Although the settlement includes $307,000 for Al Madany, the money will not go into the mosque or lawyer’s pockets, said Attorney Joseph P. Williams of Shipman & Goodwin, who represents the Zoning Commission.

“The settlement payment was based upon what the city estimated were the out-of-pocket costs that Al Madany has incurred in the litigation for things like court costs, transcripts and consulting experts,” Williams said. “The settlement payment does not pay toward the legal fees of Wilmer Hale, the plaintiff’s lead counsel, or any costs that Al Madany incurred as part of the original application process. The city has been informed that Wilmer Hale will write off any fees associated with the work that it has performed in this case on behalf of Al Madany.”

“Furthermore, the traffic hazards are of a major concern, especially when students are walking to Kendall and Ponus schools AND during the mosque prayer time and/or holy days,” Vetare continued. “That intersection simply cannot handle that type of congestion as it already is a hazard. What’s going to happen when Lowe’s opens on Connecticut Avenue and there is increased traffic on the back streets (Fillow Street) because traffic on Connecticut Avenue has become impassible on weekends?

“Who is going to compensate me as my home deteriorates in value? Are you going to re-evaluate and lower my property taxes?

“Why can’t the City help them to locate a more suitable piece of property and let them build the mosque of their dreams? This building DOES NOT belong in our neighborhood.

“It’s also time to review the zoning laws and make the necessary changes so this doesn’t happen again. The regulations are antiquated if this building meets zoning requirements.

“I am 150 percent opposed to this mosque being built in MY neighborhood! And, for the record, this opposition has nothing to do with religion and is based solely on the size of the structure, is out of character for the area, and traffic/ pedestrian safety.”

Councilman David Watts (D-District A), who represents the Kendall neighborhood, was absent from the Aug. 12 Common Council meeting where the proposed settlement was discussed in an executive session. That was the night of the primary in which Watts tried unsuccessfully to unseat state Rep. Chris Perone (D-137). While Watts was absent from the meeting, a source said he did visit the executive session for “a very short while” and left.

Watts declined to comment.

Kate Johnson of William Raveis Real Estate said property values have already dropped.

“I have been a Norwalk Realtor now for 40 years,” Johnson wrote. “My four children all attended Norwalk schools. I am very much in favor of furthering the equality of all cultures. However, this proposal is detrimental for many reasons – the size of the structure for the piece of property and the traffic and parking. As a West Norwalk resident for 42 years, I witnessed many accidents on Fillow Street at that corner.  Now I am witnessing, already, the decline in property values (115 Fillow St., 130 Fillow St., as well as Chipping Lane) as potential buyers are expressing their fear relative to that construction and how it will affect their quality of life as well as future values. It has nothing to do with ethnic concerns, but size of structure and traffic. I know that one of our Fairfield County towns recently turned down an application for a religious structure due to concerns from the community (was it Greenwich?) relative to how it would change the character of the residential area. When will Norwalk wake up and begin to look out for the best interests of its residents who have chosen areas of the city due to their various characteristics – have been involved in supporting the city and paid high taxes to have those areas remain as when they bought there.

“I am in favor of preserving neighborhoods, preserving history and open green space, and not in favor of allowing massive buildings in residential areas that will add traffic, noise and pollution to an otherwise bucolic part of Norwalk.”

Peggy Holton combined a lot of ideas in her email:

“It seems to me that a Mosque in Norwalk would be better located in an area suitable for easy access for the regional people it expects to serve. The access to the proposed location on Fillow is complicated, and not near other establishments such as restaurants that might be attractive to people coming from outside the immediate neighborhood. A location in the area of Main Street, West Avenue, or SoNo would offer easier access, more parking options, restaurants, shops, and proximity to other businesses who might benefit from people coming to the Mosque making other stops in the same area. This area is geared for more traffic and wants to draw people.

“My husband and I have traveled in Muslim countries such as Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan because he is very interested in Greek and Roman history and ruins. We have seen many mosques on these trips, all located in the middle of villages and cities, surrounded by shops and other municipal buildings, making it easy for people to visit them. The call to prayer, blasted over loud sound systems several times each day, would be absolutely inappropriate in a residential neighborhood, but much less of a problem in a busy commercial location.

“A downtown Norwalk location would seem to benefit all parties – has anyone considered this? Perhaps the city could help with a land swap?”

Again – the settlement, which was negotiated with the assistance of Zoning Commission Chairman Joe Santo and Zoning Commission Vice Chairwoman Emily Wilson – specifies that there will be no prayer calls.

Amy Boczer emphasized zoning regulations in her email:

“There should be no settlement – the decision was made NOT to construct such a large scale commercial building in a residential community due to legitimate zoning rules and regulations,” Boczer wrote. “Now, after threats on the part of the mosque group, Norwalk is backing down. Why is it OK for such a zoning rule to be overturned or ignored for those constructing the mosque and ignore the residential community that it will be destroying? If you allow this to happen now, what happens when another group or commercial building wants to come into your own residential neighborhood? Will you stop it then? You won’t be able to because you just set a precedence. Do the right thing and stand up to these threats and bullying tactics, stand up for the citizens of Norwalk who live in that community, fight for a neighborhood that does not want to be destroyed because you allowed for zoning rules to be pushed aside. … Please do the right thing for our neighborhoods. I am sure another commercial parcel of land within Norwalk could be found.”

The application was turned down in 2012 because Al Madany needed a special permit. All parties agreed that it met the zoning regulations, but under the rules of a special permit, the Zoning Commission can use its discretion, viewing the application subjectively. Al Madany sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). “RLUIPA provides that if a religious group can demonstrate nothing more than a ‘burden’ on its ability to practice its religion, it is then up to the municipality to prove that the zoning denial was based on a compelling governmental interest,” Councilman Bruce Kimmel (D-At Large) wrote in a Wednesday letter to the editor.

Lisa Wilson Grant, a Rowayton resident, opposes the settlement.

“As a person who cares about Norwalk history, I feel it as our duty today to protect the buildings and spaces that are dear to our residents,” Grant said. “I think a lot has been learned over the years. Tasteful architecture that blends in with its surroundings would be far more palatable to residents. Especially this land, which contains the charming red house. … I view the changes (to the mosque and community hall plan) to be minimal, and do not change the footprint of the out of scale structure. The renderings I have viewed are horrendous.”

The little red house will remain on the property, as the mosque is built around it.

Steve Mason fears for the safety of residents.

“The roads in the surrounding areas of the proposed mosque and in particular … the neighborhoods between this site and New Canaan Avenue are densely populated with single family residences, many of which have young children,” Mason wrote. “The amount and speed of traffic is already above what it should be as these roads are used as a major cut through from the Route 7 highway and the Broad River Business District by those heading to NCC, and the myriad of big box stores on Connecticut Avenue. This cut-through route developed as the south bound traffic on Route 7 faced what is often an intolerable traffic backup at the I-95 merge.

“Mosque traffic will only severely aggravate these pre-existing dangerous conditions. We have lost three pets to this traffic already. Let us hope it is never a young child.”

The Zoning Commission’s public hearing on the settlement is planned for 7 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4, in Concert Hall.

Comments

40 responses to “Neighbors of proposed Norwalk mosque to city: Please don’t”

  1. John Hamlin

    Sounds like these are all sensible concerns that never made their way into the zoning regulations, so it’s too late to stop the mosque. For millions of dollars the city might delay it a few years, but because of the zoning regulations (and according to the reports, because of the way it was handled by the city), it’s probably too late to stop it. This should be a wake up call that Norwalk should protect the rights of property owners not to be negatively impacted by their neighbors’ property. Property rights should not include the right to lower your neighbors’ property values through over-development or other forms of blight. Right now Norwalk just pays lip service to the idea. Perhaps this chapter will be a wake up call to taxpayers that their investment in their property isn’t being adequately protected.

  2. Jeff

    The proposed structure is in essence is a de facto commercial structure with a revolving crowd shuffling in and out multiple times each day . . . far different than a residential development where there are likely two rush periods; a morning and an evening. How can the noise of nearly two-hundred car doors be tolerated by the neighborhood at 5:00am? Sorry, the white pine trees will just not cut it. Please provide an example of other structures with these characteristics on 1.5 acres on residential development.

    Thank you [Nancy on Norwalk] for your thorough and balanced coverage of this important issue. The story above provides an accurate view of the vast majority of residential neighbors in the area (imho). Now that there is anecdotal evidence that property values have decreased from a season realtor, Norwalk’s legal woes could be far from over. Will disgruntled residents pursue class action suits? It’s sad to see political divisiveness and racial innuendos have been inserted into this debate by proponents of the settlements/mosque. Again, for the reasons noted in the article, Norwalk has solid footing to press ahead on safety concerns and not settle or be threatened by bogus claims of racial discrimination.

  3. Aga Khan

    @johnhamilton no amount of changes to Norwalk’s zoning code would have prevented the construction of the mosque in the Fillow St neighborhood. Indeed by my reading of RLUIPA a house of worship can exist anywhere barring health and safety concerns.

    Besides the potential cost to Norwalk from Al Madany’s legal bills commenters should also consider that the City will have to face the US Justice Dept which has already intervened once in this

    Just yesterday the DOJ sued the City of St. Anthony for rejecting a mosque in a light industrial area.

    What commenters don’t seem to get is that the federal law gives a preference to religious groups in zoning matters because of the US Constitution’ s guarantee of religious free speech.

    Anyone up for changing the US Constitution?

    http://www.twincities.com/localnews/ci_26420345/st-anthony-sued-rejecting-islamic-center

  4. Pibermanfmc

    Long term residents will recall other instances where the P&Z required religious groups to modify their plans to suit the properties involved. And successfully so. What’s unique with the Mosque is the sheer size of their facility on the property. And the willingness of our Mayor to capitulate. Those two features make this case unique. Mayor Rilling may have underestimated the resolve of City citizens to protect their community.

  5. Suzanne

    Aga Khan, Yes. And so are a lot of other communities across the United States.

  6. One and Done

    Original reports said the prayer calls would not be amplified. That implies there will still be prayer calls, but does not define the threshold of magnitude that is acceptable/not amplified. Does anyone know what that is?
    .
    Age of Khan brings up a significant point that the US DOJ has expressed interest in the case. This is another body politic that will change in just a few years. Perhaps it wouldn’t cost the city that much to try and run the clock out for a less partial DOJ. There is incontrovertible evidence that the current DOJ is consumed with social justice than it is blind justice. For example, sending 40 FBI agents to Ferguson, MO to investigate a local police matter while ignoring the IRS will destruction of evidence ordered by lawfully issued subpoenas.

  7. EveT

    @Pibermanfmc, those “other instances” occurred before RLUIPA was enacted.
    Try this thought experiment. Imagine it’s the 1960s and the laws banning racial discrimination in housing have just recently taken effect. A black family has bought an old house in a white neighborhood. They have sought zoning approval to tear it down and build a larger new house. Zoning approval was denied, even though the proposed house conforms to zoning. The black owners sued the city claiming they were being discriminated against. Because of the new laws, the owners are likely to win in court, and if they lose they can come back to the zoning commission again and still build their desired house. An out of court settlement is proposed that scales down the size of the new house.
    Now, take the rhetoric that is being used by the angry anti-mosque writers and try applying it to this hypothetical scenario.

  8. Tim D

    @Aga Kahn Anyone up for changing the US Constitution? For real? Seriously, What’s your deal? I’ll you ask again – who are you trying to impress by posting what amounts to inflammatory boasts regarding something that is a slam dunk? You got what you wanted. You are getting your mosque. Why continue to try and intimidate and insult people with nonsense?

    ..

  9. Oldtimer

    Pibermanfmc can’t resist taking a poke at the mayor. The mayor inherited this situation and did exactly what he said he would. He allowed the already-in-progress legal proceeding to follow it’s course. There was nothing he could do, a federal court judge was clearly in charge. The result is a settlement that seems to meet the objectives of both sides, if not the opinions of a few neighborhood emailers, who seem to be unfamiliar with settlement terms and conditions.

  10. One and Done

    Thanks Oldtimer for pointing this out about the Mayor. Next time in 2015, we’ll elect someone who wants the job, which God forbid actually involves continuing or discontinuing works initiated under his/her predecessor.

  11. One and Done

    Let’s be clear, by the 36 letters received so far, it would seem the settlement only achieves the objectives of the mosque and the politically weak kneed.

  12. PNolin

    Aga Khan’s point ” federal law gives a preference to religious groups in zoning matters because of the US Constitution’s guarantee of religious free speech” demonstrates why RUILPA is unconstitutional as it is being used here and elsewhere in today’s America. The Constitution prevents the government from giving any preference to a religion or religions generally under the First Amendment Establishment Clause. That is one of the key arguments our attorneys have advanced in this case and we should let the Court determine that issue on summary judgment motions next spring, or at trial or on a subsequent appeal.

  13. Aga Khan

    @pnolin I’m not a constitutional expert so I have no idea what happens when the free speech clause comes into conflict with the establishment clause. However I do know that the 2nd Circuit court has rulled RLUIPA cosntitutional. Norwalk tried to get the District court to say it wasn’t and the judge declined.

    @TimD I’m arguing that since RLUIPA is constitutional that the only way to overturn it is to change the constitution itself (or change the law) I suspect that many people are upset (or couldn’t imagine) that laws are being applied equally and that the favored become disfavored.

    @EveT you hit the nail on the head.

  14. Suzanne

    EveT: You are referencing racial discrimination as though it were an apt metaphor. It’s not.

  15. Sunnie Kaplan

    I personally would like to know who the realtor was who worked with Al-Madany to sell them this piece of property with the assurances that the mosque could be built there – so that I would be able to tell everyone I meet NOT to work with that realtor and drive them out of business. I am willing to bet that realtor doesn’t even live in Norwalk and has no conception of what he/she has done to this neighborhood – and if he/she knew, my guess is that he/she could not care less. Such a realtor deserves to lose their license, their income, and their standing in the community (if they even have one). The realtor’s name should be published.

  16. One and Done

    I’m not happy about this out of place facility destroying this neighborhood and potentially the city, but to hold a realtor accountable is a stretch. Realtors are actually bound by law as fiduciary’s for the property owners / buyers. They can’t be held to account for getting either of their parties the best deal they could.
    .
    No the chief antagonist in this case are the folks who think that building this monstrosity here is anyway to be neighborly. I’d argue in fact it is driven from some of the underlying theme’s of their book of religion which calls for conquest of non-believers. Simply building in an area that would have them get along is contrary to their theological position. Not that the Zoning commission considered these points in their rejection of the proposal, but you can’t dismiss the contrast to the ‘love thy neighbor’ paradigm of other religions.

  17. Aga Khan

    @oneanddonr proves the mosques’s case. Thanks. Where can they pick up the check?

  18. LWitherspoon

    @One and Done
    .
    I do not believe there is any evidence that the mosque is pressing its case out of a desire for conquest. And your conclusion that conquest is at the heart of Islam is downright wrong. Islam is a religion of peace. A tiny fraction of the world’s 1.6 BILLION Muslims engage in violent activity in a perversion of that faith, but every major religion has adherents that stray from the path of peace. There are Christian Fundamentalists who bomb abortion clinics and Jews who commit unspeakable acts against Palestinians, but such acts are never cause to condemn an entire religion of largely peace-loving people.
    .
    It’s worth exploring Norwalk’s options in this case, along with examining whether any political activity or contributions by Al Madany members helped advance their cause. But let’s not debase ourselves by denigrating other religions.

  19. SP

    @EveT and Aga Khan, you’re missing the point entirely. Try a scenario in which the “black family” just happens to be a family of 500 in a residential neighborhood, and the “larger house” is actually a 20 story high-rise.

    The traffic and safety concerns are valid and legitimate. Why is that difficult to understand? Take a walk along Fillow Street some evening around 5:00 and you’ll get it.

  20. UN Envoy

    SP, the traffic and safety concerns are so “valid and legitimate” that no one ever bothered to complain about them to the city, ever, before the mosque appeared, nor were they even deemed “valid and legitimate” in June when only one person showed up for the public hearing from West Norwalk to protest the the Oak Hills driving range and huge “Golf Learning Center” just around the corner, projected to attract hundreds of people every day, many more than the roughly 100 local families who belong to the mosque. Contrast that with the 2,400 families that belong to St Mathews nearby on Scribner in the heart of the same residential neighborhood, complete with a huge “Parish Center” with classrooms and catering hall, on a narrow road with dangerous curves, which never gets any “valid and legitimate” complaints about their size and impact and safety or traffic on West Norwalk. Interesting, wouldn’t you say?

  21. One and Done

    @Spoon. I’m not speaking of Islamists in general, but their book. Their book is very explicit in its instructions. I’ll let you google the myriad examples that directly speak of subjugation of women and conquest of non believers.
    .
    By law we are to tolerate these views and if they only accuse us of being intolerant without any evidence to support the assertion they can sue us for our own property. In this case tax payer dollars.
    .
    We are living in very dangerous times right now where the simple leveling of discrimination charges renders the accused judged as guilty of the crime without due process. More dangerous are leaders who capitulate to bullies either through silence like the Mayor, or direct endorsement like Bruce Kimmel.
    .
    That is what is going on here and there is ZERO evidence that the Zoning commission discriminated, despite what my stupid opinions might be on the subject of the Koran. Others can draw their own conclusions as to the intentions of the mosque. For now we are still entitled to our opinions until of course they come to get those. We are on the edge of a slippery slope here.

  22. One and Done

    UN Envoy. Stick to the topic. 1.5 acres on a very dangerous intersection a few hundred yards from an elementary school and the site of numerous accidents over the years.
    .
    St Matthews is 6 plus acres on a much less traveled road. Oak hills is scores of acres set far back off the road.

  23. Suzanne

    UN Envoy, While I agree with your legal viewpoints as to the development of the mosque (unfortunately – but not because of you, of course!) you are off base about the traffic situation.
    *
    The Oak Hills golf course can be approached from many different “feeder” streets that would not include the intersection referenced in the Mosque situation.
    *
    In addition, the Roman Catholics thought ahead: they purchased enough land to accommodate the families and activities, including parking for their facility without endangering passersby. They have two entrances with clear vantage points unlike what is being proposed (or at least divulged) so far re: this Mosque.
    *
    Drive the proposed Mosque intersection a few times: it is just plain scary. I know I am extra cautious when approaching from the blind curve on the hillside and going straight on the through way to Taylor. Adding a busy driveway to the mix requires remediation.
    *
    I would hate for the situation to turn into the proverbial stop sign added AFTER a fatality. It is a legitimate concern and, I hope, one that is taken seriously. If the Mosque must be built in that location, traffic lights are the only thing that would ensure safety for people attending services, neighbors and passersby.

  24. potaxpayer

    This comment has been denied for racist content.

  25. Suzanne

    One and Done: Read the bible. You will find as many references to odd, violent and oppressive occurrences as in the Koran. The point of it all is the interpretation. I think our country has become very provincial in their outlook on Muslims because they are using a few extremists cases to validate stereotypes as well as some factions. If you examine Christian religions of every stripe, you would find similar extremists and, especially in history, views that validated outright slaughter of those that did not believe as they did. Religion is a funny thing that way – just like you, people have their belief systems they believe are inviolate. I could not possibly compare this to our Mayor or Mr. Kimmel – now that is extreme. They are responding to a political and community situation that is distressful but not mortal.

  26. SP

    @UN Envoy – St Matthews is on Scribner, and set back well from the street, and has plenty of parking for its 1600 parishioners – NOT the “2400 families” you incorrectly cited.
    Oak Hills has a driveway that’s something like half a mile long, so is well off the road.

    Try as you like, there is no discrimination happening here, and please check your so-called “facts.”
    The issue is for the safety of our children and the impact that a structure of the proposed size would have on that site. I can’t imagine why anyone thought it would be a good idea to put such an enormous building on that plot, in a residential neighborhood.

  27. Don’t Panic

    The many corrections in this story about prayer calls are only half right. If reported correctly , the settlement says no “amplified” prayer calls.
    .
    A few adults making a harmonized call at a yell may still be loud enough to disturb the neighbors.

    1. Mark Chapman

      @panic

      According to the city’s outside attorney, Joseph Williams:
      “The agreement also specifically states that there can be no amplified calls to prayer from outside the mosque building or from anywhere outdoors on the property. Otherwise, the general noise ordinance would apply to the mosque the same as it would to any other property owner.”

  28. EDR

    The problem with the site is it cannot handle the traffic it generates. It has no ability to stack ingress and egress traffic the same way Oak Hills, St Matthews, Temple Shalom, and the Congregational Church can. They are on lots that are at least 4x as large.

    I read the settlement agreement earlier today. What does it say that All-Madany has proposed a building which is ostensibly a big box store in a residential neighborhood on a site that is too small to handle the traffic it generates in a safe manner at a seriously deficient intersection with its overflow parking located offsite. This is further supported by the fact that during peek times they must employ off duty police officer to direct traffic and no parking signs are to be posted everywhere on the surrounding streets. This is not a stable traffic situation and is a legitimate zoning reason for denial of this Special Permit application. The concept is called stable traffic flow and the proponents are not providing for stable traffic flow.

    So Mr Aga Kahn while you hide behind RULIPA to do build your Mosque know the true reason why your potential new neighbors are upset with your position is not that they are against your right to practice religious freedom its because you are going to seriously affect their quality of life because of all the traffic that you are generating on a completely inappropriate site.

  29. Jeff

    What’s unfortunate is the public meeting will have no impact on the settlement. It is useless to mention or insert the word “proposed” as this looks like a done deal. City officials have worked under the radar by conspiring to selecting surrogates from the zoning commission who know exactly how the vote will go down (imho). What a sad day in Norwalk when taxpayers have no say on how their residential areas are impacted and are kept out of the loop until the 23rd hour. It probably would have been advisable for all parties if city officials petitioned the court to seek public comment prior to engaging in any settlement discussions but this was not the case. I am glad all those who oppose will show up as I will next Thursday but regrettably the die has been cast.

  30. RU4REEL

    @One and done, Oak Hills is set back but they still have to drive on Fillow to get there.

  31. Scott

    Anyone who doesn’t believe that there is a legitimate traffic safety concern with that intersection need only talk to the DPW crew that recently rebuilt the storm catch basins there. Even with advance warning signs, a coned off work zone and 2 flagmen there were several close calls. Take it from someone who works in the streets of Norwalk every day, that IS a dangerous intersection.

  32. One and Done

    @Suzanne. And your 21st century examples are? Stick with me in the present here. Invasion of a neighborhood, destruction of the quality of life, and perpetual animosity from neighbors is the only potential outcome of this whole move. Who in their right mind would pursue this? Something is totally off here.

  33. Ethics-Schmethics

    Like it or not, the City’s zoning ordinances are in place. RLUIPA is on the federal books. Al-Madany is fully within their rights to build on the Fillow St site. I’m not saying that it’s the right fit for the neighborhood, but the City has absolutely no recourse under the current laws and regulations. It’s time that the neighborhood begin looking at ways to best manage the increase in traffic, possible safety concerns, etc. Short of Al-Madany choosing another site on their own (I wouldn’t be holding my breath), this project is going forward.

  34. UN Envoy

    Scott, that intersection does need some help, maybe just major painted stripes and better warning signage about what’s up ahead. But the NPD accident record shows it has a below average accident rate, hardly any at all over many years, so how dangerous can it be?
    ;
    EDR is wrong. The mosque is not a big box store. It is 22,000 square feet broken up into 2 buildings. BIg box stores start average around 100,000 square feet. The mosque is smaller than most other churches and synagogues in the area, that are also located in the same AAA residence zone that the mosque is proposed in. . It has 100 families as members. St. Matthews just across the park from the mosque site is a mega-church, the largest religious institution in Norwalk, with 2,400 families as members, and a catering hall and classrooms. St. Matthews is on Scribner, a narrow windy road with daily traffic about the same as Fillow (3,500 cars per day.) Temple Shalom and United Congregational are on Richards, which gets 8,900 cars per day. Richards also has NCC, with 11,000 students. There are 3 large schools that are around 80,000 square feet each all in residence zones, (Kendall, Fox Run, and Ponus) all with at least 500 students and 80 staff, all within a half mile of the mosque site. The restaurant in Oak Hills is around 20,000 square feet. The proposed driving range and gold learning center in the park are huge and will draw hundreds of cars a day, which no one from West Norwalk showed up to complain about. That’s because no one has ever ever gotten stuck in traffic gridlock in West Norwalk, except after a windstorm when trees have blocked roads. Speeding is an issue as it is all over Norwalk, because we don’t do traffic calming or enforcement, but that is not the mosque’s fault.
    ;

    Ethics-schmethics has it right. We can settle now, with minimal costs, and get the compromise smaller mosque with 50% more parking. Or we can not settle, and fight it in court, which will cost the city about $4 million it is estimated even if we win. But we won’t win, as the top lawyers in the country Mayor Moccia hired at great expense (no one knows how much) have told us. Then we will have to pay up to $10 million we don’t have, taxes will get raised, services cut, and the mosque can than build their original larger version with less parking, because even that original application met all of our codes.
    ;
    The dumbest thing the city could do now is not settle this case.

  35. MTP

    People are asleep at the wheel again. When will this country wake up? Ever again? This is a travesty in the neighborhood its in. Norwalk should be ashamed that they dont have the courage to stand up and challenge this with every ounce of resistance they have and to pay money out on top of it, piles insult on top of injury. Take note people of who ends up supporting this and in the next election, vote them out. I dont think the pols realize how much opposition there is to this. Most people have been bullied into silence on matters like this and dont say anything (sadly). But when they are in private in the polling place they will. My votes in the next local election will turn squarely on who was for or against this. Religion of peace? get real. Why would a peaceful people force their way into an area where they are clearly not wanted? Some people commenting here need to get real. One needs to look no further than Europe to see whats happening, France for example. Good grief, wake up. Get ready to hear this coming from their structure, possibly multiple times a day. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAvlimEYEpQ

    Editor’s note: We call your attention to several of the fact-based stories we have published that point out clearly that amplified prayer calls are forbidden and unamplified prayer calls may not be made from the minaret. The mosque, we are told by the city legal team, will be held to the city’s noise ordinance standards, which are often exceeded by church bells elsewhere.

  36. One and Done

    @MTP. So far only Councilman Bruce Kimmel has gone on record to say he doesn’t think the city’s $18 billion grand list is worth protecting.
    .
    We’ll see who the rest […] are soon enough. We can guess the mayor is among them, but then we know he is incapable of taking a stand on anything of controversy.

    [This comment was edited for name-calling.]

  37. Scott

    A couple points. Aren’t churches usually neighborhood based? The majority of the members are drawn from the immediate neighborhood. I’d be interested where the mosque members come from. I’d bet it isn’t a majority from the neigjborhood. Also I’ve made this point before, are there different building codes for a church? If not I think we should all build 80′ tall wind turbines or cell towers on our properties. At least then we might be able to recoup some of the lost property value. What’s good for the goose…….

  38. SP

    @Un Envoy – why must you keep LYING?? St. Matthews has half the enrollment you keep insisting it has, and it is JUST DOWN THE STREET FROM THE TJ MAXX/BEST BUY/DOLLAR STORE plaza.
    Yep… just a few hundred yards from the Stop ‘n Shop plaza, from the Barnes & Noble/Shop Rite/GNC etc plaza…

    And as was pointed out, when St. Matthews developed their plot they planned accordingly and allowed for the volume of traffic AND for the size of the structures.

    Where do you live, UN Envoy? I am interested in a small plot of land on a residential street near you.

    1. Mark Chapman

      FYI, UNEnvoys’s figures agree with the figures we obtained from the St. Matthews website. If you disagree, you should speak with St. Matthews. I tried to get information from the office today but the person who answered declined to give any figures. I will try again Wednesday morning. Best to not accuse people of lying when they are using figures provided by the source.

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