Proposed mosque settlement a sellout by the mayor

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Peter Torrano is the chairman of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee.

To the Editor:

In early July the chairman and entire Executive Committee of the Norwalk Republican Town Committee signed a letter calling on Mayor Harry Rilling and city government to fight for Norwalk and not accept any settlement that put the city in a negative light and a disadvantaged position. We further stated that we would not support any settlement in the Al-Madany Mosque suit that allowed for an unreasonable development in a residential neighborhood.

Barely two months on, the mayor has capitulated on all fronts. He has allowed his corporation counsel to propose a settlement to the Zoning Commission which changes nothing for the neighborhood. While the “spin” put on this proposal touts change that should somehow appease residents, in reality the only constituency served is the largely non-resident religious group that sued the city by falsely alleging religious discrimination. The traffic and parking problems remain. The out of character bulk of the building is no better. This proposal is a terrible deal for the local neighbors in West Norwalk and the Kendall area.

The insults added to the injury of the as-yet unapproved proposal are 1) a payment of over $300,000 to the Al-Madany group, even though no substantiated evidence of any sort of religious bias was ever offered and 2) there is no acknowledgement whatsoever that the city’s Zoning Commission did nothing wrong in denying an application that everyone agrees was oversized, dangerous, and an imposition on the neighborhood.

The only evidence of wrongdoing is that established by the city of Norwalk against the mosque group. To date it has been established that the group conspired to falsify the traffic study that they offered to the Zoning Commission in support of their initial application and never allowed for a comparison of the traffic generated by a comparable mosque, even when appropriate comparisons existed. There is no evidence of religious discrimination by the city.

The only reason that the settlement is being forwarded to the Zoning Commission now is to fulfill political promises of the mayor. The case made by his corporation counsel, a non-Norwalk resident, for the possibility of a large damages claim to be awarded against the city is just as likely as a large settlement award being made to the city in recompense for the completely false case filed by the Al-Madany Group. Attorney Coppola’s case does not hold water. His mission to settle this case has been his primary focus since he was appointed. Ironically, in Greenwich, Attorney Coppola has taken the exact opposite position; there he is fighting against a synagogue proposal claiming it is too big for the neighborhood. Here however he is happy to throw Norwalk into a traffic nightmare in the making.

The Zoning Commission properly rejected the initial Al-Madany application based on the inappropriate bulk of the structure (largely resulting from a community center not the Mosque itself) , multiple traffic hazards, lack of parking as well as myriad other impacts on the neighborhood and the city as a whole. While some parking may have been added to the new proposal, none of the other issues have been addressed, and to say otherwise is a charade.

The city’s processes worked; there was no racism or discrimination of any sort; and the case should be defended. The Republican Town Committee’s Executive Committee urges citizens not to give up hope and to instead come to the Zoning Commission’s Public Hearing on Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. in the Concert Hall in City Hall and let their views be known with respect to the Zoning issues created by this politically expedient capitulation by the Mayor.

Peter Torrano,

On behalf of the RTC Executive Committee


26 responses to “Proposed mosque settlement a sellout by the mayor”

  1. Bruce Kimmel

    The above letter, very unfortunately, is not only irresponsible, but does not deal with the specific situation facing Norwalk; a situation caused by the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act, known as RLUIPA.
    The RLUIPA law was established so religious groups, particularly small Christian congregations, would be able to establish churches in residential areas. Under the law, if a religious organization can demonstrate that a zoning denial is a “burden” (and only a burden) on its ability to practice its religion, it is then up to the municipality to prove an overwhelming governmental interest as the cause of the denial. This is difficult to do. I personally do not like this law, but there is nothing that can be done, especially at the local level.
    Former Mayor Richard Moccia made the excellent decision when he hired Marci Hamilton, probably the nation’s foremost expert on RLUIPA, who for years has argued that the law is unconstitutional. She has not only endorsed the proposed settlement between Al Madany and the city, but has called it ground-breaking because it was based more on zoning than religious issues. I concur with her assessment of the agreement.
    It is important to stress that the city has basically three options, none of which are very good:
    1. The city settles, which will cost taxpayers about $150,000 and will result in the construction of the scaled down version of the mosque. An additional $160,000 will be paid for by our insurer. There has been considerable opposition to settling on this site; and now Mr. Torrano has also called for the city to continue in court. But consider the possible consequences.
    2. The city does not settle, goes to court, and loses, which would cost taxpayers somewhere around ten million and will result in the construction of the original, larger version of the mosque. I should add that having a ten million dollar liability hanging over our head will not sit well with the rating agencies, and could result in a downgrade of our valuable AAA credit rating.
    3. The city does not settle, goes to court, and wins, which would cost taxpayers about $4 million and prevent the larger version of the mosque from being built. However, Al Madany would be allowed, after several months, to resubmit plans for the scaled down version of the mosque, and we would be back to square one with very little chance of prevailing in court.
    Since Mayor Moccia hired Marci Hamilton, and since the Republican led Zoning Commission crafted the compromise agreement, I find it more than a little distasteful that Mr. Torrano believes Mayor Rilling is to blame. The city is between the proverbial rock and a hard place, trying to score cheap political points is definitely out of place.

  2. TLaw

    Thank you Mr Torrano for taking a stand on this issue.

  3. rburnett

    Once again Torrano shoots his mouth off before his brain in engaged. He knows nothing about reasons the settlement has to be made unless he is getting information from a Zoning Commissioner or Councilperson. Information that was supposed to be confidential until it can be released.

    Torrano would subject the city to legal fees of 6 million dollars or more to fight a battle that could not be won. That is the kind of responsibility the RTC would bring to the city. I’m glad we have elected officials that fight for the rights of ALL citizens, not just the vocal few who have a NIMBY mindset.

  4. LWitherspoon

    Let the games begin. The Mayor and his supporters are claiming that the Mayor is just an innocent bystander who had nothing to do with the settlement, which of course is preposterous. Others would have us believe that the Mayor sold out the city in exchange for contributions and other campaign support. While I would like to know more about campaign contributions by mosque proponents and the falsified traffic studies referenced in Mr. Torrano’s letter, it’s probably the case that the truth is somewhere in between those extreme positions.
    I’m not yet willing to accept the gushing statements from various City lawyers about how great this settlement is for us. Not without more details about what other cities in similar circumstances have achieved. Lawyers say what they’re paid to say, and I believe part of the settlement itself included the requirement that all sides issue statements in favor of the settlement.

  5. NorwalkVoter

    Thank you Mr. Kimmel. It is more than a little distasteful that Mr. Torrano wants to take cheap political shots at the sitting Mayor while the city is debating the pros and cons of this settlement. The attorneys on both sides of this issue have come to an agreement. Let the Zoning Commission and the public hear the details of the settlement. Let us keep our minds open and not make this a politically charged issue. Neighbors have participated in this agreement. Mr. Torrano does not speak for all the RTC members and certainly does not speak for all Republicans. Shooting from the hip has become his MO. Most Republicans and most voters will see this for what it is. Don’t confuse facts and reasonable discourse with debate and fact finding. Norwalk citizens are smarter than that.

  6. srb1228

    Torriano’s letter comes off as political theatre. Childish and irresponsible. The tone of the letter evinces little care for the community but simply trying to take political advantage of the situation. This is exactly what breeds cynicism

  7. LWitherspoon

    @Bruce Kimmel
    As usual I have great respect for your thoughtful approach to City matters, but I am not yet convinced that the settlement is best for Norwalk.
    To your knowledge, have all of the objections raised in the Zoning Commission’s denial of the permit been satisfied? If not, which ones have not been addressed? Is there any substance to Mr. Torrano’s claim of falsified traffic studies?

  8. Jeff

    Thank you Mr. Torrano. Finally a voice of the people has emerged!

    Mr. Kimmel, isn’t safety for the citizens a governmental issue? Please stop insinuating that the town has no legs to stand on in this issue. By potentially accepting this we have given the right of way for any religious group to propose out of scale structures on our residential streets let alone destroy property values and Norwalk’s tax base. This would be far costlier than taking this to trial. Is this path we would like to go down with (literally)?

  9. Mary Forbis

    Mr Kimmel, I don’t believe you really understand the facts.

    Taking one word and saying that cities and towns must roll over because a religious institution says we are placing a “burden” on them? It simply isn’t true. The group has a place to practice their religion now, and if they only wanted to practice their religion, they could build a mosque, just a mosque, at 127 Fillow. No one would make a peep.

    No one would think that a 40000 sqft building on a one acre parcel of land is reasonable. No one.

    Your 3 scenarios are misleading and untrue. The scenario you miss is this group not being encouraged by settlement offers, and either really scaling down (none of this phoney “we are going to build the same structure and call it something different) or finding a suitable place elsewhere.

    Also, if your 3rd scenario is true, and I doubt it is based on the ridiculous cost estimate, if they actually scale down, then they will get an approval and no complaint. When this is denied again by the Zoning Commission, the message will final be received, I hope.

  10. Rod Lopez-Fabrega

    Mohammad is coming…Mohammad is coming…Mohammad is coming.

    Run for cover!

    More to the point, it begins to look (once again) that the dust storm stirred up by the location of the mosque in Norwalk veils subconscious fears of “the other”. What is more, the blame game that is at work has more to do with politics and coming elections than it has to do with traffic congestion or introducing a non-Christian place of worship into a residential neighborhood. Has anyone noticed that there already are more than a few “non-Christian” places of worship in our neighborhoods?

    We are supposed to be a pluralistic society with room for everyone to engage (or not) in any religious practice that does not involve eating babies or breaking the peace or the law. Is there any indication that an attractive mosque in any of our neighborhoods will not be an enhancement and a confirmation of the inclusiveness of our community?

    I say, more power to the mayor and to the city government for coming to a reasonable solution to the desert storm this particular place of worship has whipped up for so many months.

  11. Luz Sanchez

    All of the dollars and cents talk only makes sense if you do not value the opinion of the people and the amount of taxes they pay. Taking the part of a group because of their religion is actually just as morally wrong as opposing them because of their religion. The people of West Norwalk do not approve of this development, nor do they approve of this settlement.

    The mayor has changed his story so many times that I don’t believe him any more. Mr. Torrano says things we can all believe and agree with.

    If you think that not paying for the defense of West Norwalk is right, then maybe I can just skip paying my taxes?

  12. LWitherspoon

    Mary Forbis raises an interesting question. Many houses of worship, including mine, do not have a community center. Does the lack of a community center burden us in the exercise of our religion?

  13. Suzanne

    RLF, I find your statement insulting. The concern IS with the size and scope of the building and a very dangerous intersection. It is NOT about prejudice or racism as you so cavalierly write. The suggested solution to the dangerous intersection was minimal in the details presented by NON earlier. The size of the mosque really has not significantly changed.
    As to other houses of worship: the Jewish Temple, the Congregationalists and the Roman Catholics all have more than ample space to accommodate their worshipers. The only time I see an excess of cars at the Jewish temple is on high holy days and they always have a police person directing traffic. The road is wide with ample room for bicyclists and pedestrians.
    To state that West Norwalk is worried about a Muslim invasion belies the fact that every race and creed already lives here. There is no Desert Storm in this neighborhood. Rather, it is a peaceful, lovely place that should not have to risk life and limb because of Zoning laws gone wrong.
    I would welcome a Mosque as an expansion of culture and coexistence and understanding. But not at the location being proposed and not because of RULIPA which Al Madany whipped out to stir up a defensive posture to reasonable neighbors like many other Muslim communities across the United States.
    Your judgments are profoundly incorrect.

  14. One and Done

    @Kimmel. Scenario 4. The city becomes completely undesirable for anyone with a clue thinking someone like you gives a rat’s rear-end on their property values and property values go way down. Scenario 5: the remaining residents sue […] the city for not enforcing our zoning laws resulting in the loss of 100s of millions in lost property values.

    This post was edited for language

  15. LWitherspoon

    Did the settlement discussions explore the possibility of the City purchasing the property from Al Madany and helping Al Madany find another Norwalk location for their place of worship and community center?

  16. Aga Khan

    What a stupid letter. Doesn’t the RTC chairman know that the Republican’s anti-Muslim campaign flyer was used as evidence in open court to demonstrate that there was a religious bias? Not satisfied with its contribution to Norwalk’s defeat last year the local elephant party wants to dig its hole deeper starting with the obnoxious statement: “the only constituency served is the largely non-resident religious group that sued the city by falsely alleging religious discrimination”

    Maybe Pete doesn’t get out much, but there is a sizeable Muslim community in Norwalk. We’re not outsiders. We live here. Our kids go to local schools. We work in Norwalk. And we vote. I’m happy and proud to say that we helped defeat a Republican mayor who pandered to what is at best Nimbyism and at worst Islamophobia

    @Lwitherspoon complains that Mr. Memon contributed to Rilling’s campaign, well so did I. So did a lot of other people who I know — Muslim and Non-Muslim. Why? Because Rilling was a better candidate and more pragmatic on a number of issues. Instead of setting this city up to pay $10 million when it lost (and that’s not a made up figure) he figured out a way to get the mosque and Stonegate to compromise. Nobody got exactly what they wanted but everyone got something. A lot of the Zoning Commissions reasons aren’t addressed because at the end of the day they were bogus. made up. Just shoved in the decision to fatten it up.

    Some of the commentators squeal that it’s such a dangerous neighborhood with lots of traffic. If it’s so bad what are the people doing still living there? Move to a safer place!

    Finally if the City wanted to buy out the mosque they could have proposed that a long time ago under the Moccia Administration. But guess what kids? There ain’t no land here in Norwalk. The city doesn’t have a magic portfolio where it can play monopoly. The mosque found a cheap piece of land and they bought it. In fact they may have paid to much for it because those dangerous streets really bring down property values.

  17. West Norwalk Neighbor

    Mr. Kimmel has it exactly right in his post above. Here are some more verifiable facts that hopefully responsible and reasonable members of our community will take note of:
    1) It came out in the last hearing that here was no record of anyone in the neighborhood ever complaining to any city department including the Police, DPW, or Planning and Zoning about trying to fix dangerous curves or speeding that suddenly became a concern when the mosque was proposed. Check yourself. You won’t find a single complaint. So, why all of a sudden is this such a concern? Why did no one from the same neighborhood complain recently in the hearings about the expected increase in traffic from the proposed public driving range and huge “golf learning center” around the corner in Oak Hills Park? Is Muslim traffic somehow worse or different than golfer traffic?
    2) The original mosque application met all the existing Norwalk zoning codes for parking, height, and lot coverage. Yes, that’s true. They weren’t trying to break any rules or do anything that our code didn’t already allow. Check the record. The settlement compromise is 20% smaller and has 50% more parking, even though our code didn’t require that. If the code is so bad, which everyone agrees it is, then why didn’t our staff or commissions ever try to change it? Our broken zoning code is the real story here, which encouraged the applicants to buy the property for the mosque in the first place, because our code said it would fit. If we had a stricter code, they wouldn’t have bought the property in the first place, and we wouldn’t be where we are now. Why should the applicant have to pay a steep price in public humiliation, twice now, for mistakes made by our own Planning and Zoning staff for overseeing a broken code? It is absurd to blame the victim here, who is the applicant who just followed the rules that were in place, just like everyone else does. The anger is totally misplaced here by the RTC Chair and many others, who should be questioning our zoning code and city staff, not the applicant who simply followed the rules, was denied once, and then came back with a solution that addressed all the concerns of the original denial.
    3) Since the compromise solution from the applicant reduces the size and increases the parking way beyond the requirements of our own codes, and directly addresses the concerns of the commission in the original denial, then there is a 100% chance the city will lose in court based on all the expert lawyers Mayor Moccia originally hired, especially with the strong evidence that can be used against the city now appearing like this despicable letter full of lies from the RTC. Just as Mr. Kimmel explains above, after the city will surely lose the case after spending millions in legal fees and damages, the original larger application will likely get built, after Norwalk taxpayers have to suffer tax increases and service cuts for years to pay the bills which are not insured. This is the opposite of fiscal responsibility on the part of the RTC. It is, to be honest, pure fiscal madness to be playing with fire like this. The RTC Chair is in way over his head, has the facts wrong, and will be held accountable soon enough for jeopardizing Norwalk’s future by trying to stir up a mob with lies and exaggerations when all the real facts come out.
    4) The original application (27,000 square feet) and the compromise solution (22,000 square feet), are broken up into two buildings, each one smaller in size than most of the 10 large multi-unit condo buildings in the 3 separate complexes across the street or within 500 feet, where ironically many of the opponents live who are complaining about the size of the mosque. The condo buildings dwarf the scale of the mosque as they are mostly taller and bulkier, and set much higher above the mosque site. Just check Google Earth to confirm. How can anyone argue that this building is out of scale for the neighborhood with the huge buildings and parking lots that are directly across the street? Now that the landscaping has grown up around the condo buildings since they were built, they appear much less imposing, and so will the mosque soon after it is built. It is absurd, and insulting, to argue that this 22,000 square foot mosque is somehow out of scale in this context of over 150,000 square feet of condo buildings within 500 feet of the mosque.
    5) There will be no prayer calls from the thin minaret as the applicant agreed to, which is actually shorter and less than 10% the width of the massive steel towers holding up the high tension wires that are about 800 feet away, that run directly through Oak Hills Park, across Fillow, and directly behind the residences on Stepping Stone Lane. Go look for yourself. It is absurd for anyone to argue the single minaret is too tall when there are multiple much taller and bulkier steel towers within view of the all of the neighbors every day within a few hundred feet.

    6) Most of the members of the mosque are local residents who have worshipped and lived in Norwalk for years and decades, own businesses or work here, pay taxes, go shopping at Stew Leonard’s or Stop and Shop, and have their kids in our schools and on our sports teams, just like everyone else in Norwalk. They are not “outsiders”, but part of the diversity of our city that Norwalk is well-known for. They bought a property dreaming about plans based on what our zoning code said they could legally build, made an application that met the codes, and they were denied even though other religious institutions much larger have been approved over the years. They then came back with a smaller application that solved all of the issues that were brought up in the first denial.. To deny it again will give them a slam dunk in court.
    We all hope that reason, not emotion and fear, prevails on September 4th. Shame on the RTC to try to score cheap political points against Mayor Rilling and others on this serious issue where the city has no better chance of getting out of this predicament than this settlement, the denial of which which will get covered in the national press sure enough, and will unfairly label Norwalk forever as a bastion of intolerance and stupidity. Who is going to want to move their business or family to a city that becomes synonymous around the country for religious intolerance? Where is the business community on this, the corporations, the responsible leaders of our community?
    Will Diageo or other Fortune 500 companies want to stay in or locate to a city that may become a nationwide household word for religious intolerance around the country, all because a few dozen short-sighted people wanted to exploit the situation for cheap political gain? Let’s all hope that the Chamber of Commerce and rational business and religious leaders step up and make a strong stand for this settlement, and publicly condemn the RTC Chairman for his coordinated and despicable attempts to hijack this legal process for his own selfish gain.

    We are better than this, and next week we need to show the national press and the world the best side of Norwalk, not the worst. Let everyone you know who cares about Norwalk’s future, that it is important to show up on September 4th and speak out for fairness, tolerance, and diversity by supporting an established local religious institution that simply followed the rules, got burned badly already, and is now suffering the ugliest kind of attacks by the head of the RTC and others who are using fear and lies to appeal to a mob mentality that will backfire on our entire city. When we look back someday, we will hopefully remember the tolerance and sense of real community that prevailed in Norwalk on September 4th, 2014. That is who we are, and that is what must happen next week. Please help, and spread the word.

  18. One and Done

    @Age of Khan. Way to go. Stick it to the infidels. That’s your mission after all, isn’t it? Let’s stop beating around the bush on this. Conquest is your aim, not integration.

  19. Suzanne

    Aga Khan, to my knowledge, no one has said the neighborhood is dangerous. Rather, the intersection at which this large building is being placed is very dangerous.
    There is a blind turn from a steep hill that progresses toward a through street with a street on the left that dead ends into the blind curve. You should drive it at some point to see to what the “dangerous” comments are being referred. As of yet, I have heard of no significant plans for remediation. Just a “barely there” plan that is bound to lead to accidents with that additional busy driveway coming from the mosque right into through traffic, unseen traffic and traffic waiting at a “I guess I can go” stop sign.
    Also, I would challenge your assumption that there is no land for such a building elsewhere in Norwalk where parking would be plentiful and safety considered more carefully. Norwalk is known for considering any neighborhood where they wish to put in developments as “blighted”, clearing it then leaving the land empty for years and years. Perhaps not at the price the Muslim community wanted, but the land is there. There are plenty of vacant buildings on Wall Street, for example, which could have provided a large structure for renovation with ample parking. Why was that not considered?

  20. PNolin

    Bruce I am troubled by several of your statements. First you claim “the Republican led Zoning Commission crafted the compromise agreement.” Where does that assertion come from?. I like many citizens have been asking Council members for months what the status of this settlement was and have been repeatedly told that under strict orders from Corporation Counsel they could tell me nothing. Indeed Council President Hempstead and Majority leader Petrini would not report anything on the case to the NRTC and woukld not even meet with us to hear our input for fear of contravening the directives from the Mayor’s Corporation Counsel. Now you ride to the Mayor’s defense with a claim that the Mayor was not involved and this was all put together by the Republican’s on the Zoning commission? I guess the privileges have been waived and all Council members can now reveal all they know about the negotiations and who has been leading it.

    The point Mr. Torrano makes correctly is the Mayor promised during the campaign he would let the litigation take its course. Now the Corporation Counsel has pressed this to settlement months after the Mayor took office. The Corporation Counsel is appointed solely by the Mayor and reports primarily to the Mayor. So the Mayor is not letting the case run its course. Norwalk can still win this case on Summary Judgment motions to be filed in early 2015 or at the trial which would like be scheduled later in 2015 or more likely 2016, or even on appeal thereafter. There is no legal reason to rush this settlement through. So to many it looks like politics. I would hope you would listen to the public and not vote to destroy these neighborhoods with this so called compromise that get’s nothing for the Neighbors and gives everything to Al Madany.

    Yes Mayor Moccia hired Attorney Hamilton. Yes she has publicly said the settlement is a good precedent now that her current employers and contacts the Mayor and Corporation counsel have apparently decided to settle the case. But she has also previously opined that the City has a very strong case; indeed the quote I heard was she thought it was was one of the strongest defense cases she had seen in her career of dealing with RUILPA. We should defend the case and try for a better settlement down the road. Let Al-Madany build the mosque but move the community center elsewhere, that would be a real compromise and one which the neighborhoods could endorse. Indeed I am sure that type of plan would have been approved by Zoning long ago had Al Madany been willing to accept it.

  21. EveT

    @West Norwalk Neighbor, thank you for laying out the facts. Emotional rants will not do anyone any good.
    It would be nice to believe that the lawsuit is simply a matter of Al-Madany proving religious discrimination, and if they can’t prove discrimination they would lose (notwithstanding the Republican campaign flyer distributed last year that could be used as evidence of discrimination). But that is not the legal question we are dealing with here.
    Mr. Torrano and others who are fulminating against the settlement should go and read up on the RLUIPA.

  22. Oldtimer

    I am sure you believe trying to shift all the blame for what some see as an unfortunate result to the sitting mayor is smart politics. The only people who will vote for your candidate next time around are ones who would have without this settlement or your poorly conceived letter. You do yourself, and your party, a disservice writing, or allowing your name to be used on, such a letter. You are too smart to be taking advice from whoever advised such a letter.

  23. peter parker

    This comment has been disallowed for violating several parts of our comment policy, including being a troll.

  24. UN Envoy

    PNolin, we didn’t know you had extensive RLUIPA experience. Bruce Kimmel’s assertions were reported here by Nancy on Norwalk months ago, in the spring. You must have been out of town. Nancy can confirm this. It has been public record for months that the settlement was negotiated by Zoning Commissioners Joseph Santo and Emily Wilson, who represented the city, under the direction of the court and with advice from the prominent lawyers Mayor Moccia hired. Mayor Rilling has let the lawsuit take its course, and has always had the best interests of the city in mind, something the RTC and you clearly do not by risking millions of taxpayer dollars we don’t have to play petty games with our city’s reputation and our future. You have shown your true colors here with your post. Thank you for revealing your involvement, so we know who else to blame besides Peter Torrano and the RTC if this carefully negotiated settlement is rejected and Norwalk surely loses the court case, the original larger mosque with less parking gets built, and all Norwalk taxpayers and businesses get stuck with a $10 million dollar completely avoidable bill and higher taxes, all for the indefensible emotion-based nimbyism by a small group of grossly uninformed people that we now know includes you.

  25. One and Done

    What’s worse a $10 million legal bill defending the fact that the city did absolutely nothing wrong, or $100s of millions lost in real property values on top of a slap in the face to taxpayers in terms of monetary settlements?
    Common sense is obviously not very common on our council.

  26. Oyster

    oh for pete’s sake (no pun intended), would the RTC PLEASE stop letting Mr. Torrano make statements without checking facts? If he wants to find someone to blame for this settlement agreement, he should look no further than the republican-led zoning commission (including their own endorsed, failed candidate, Emily Wilson). The fact is that this City’s zoning commission has not only failed to keep up with the changes going on in the rest of the country and federal law, but they often don’t bother to consult our own studies and master plans. They can’t even get around to locking the barn door AFTER the B.J.s horse has got out. Stop blaming this mayor (but feel free to take a good long look at the judgement of our last one, who stocked the zoning commission that led to this disaster). It is naked partisan posturing.
    There is a huge proposed mall going up soon. I’m sure an accessory facility for the mosque would help them fulfill their mixed use development aims.
    Plenty of people have complained about the traffic relating to the master plan for Oak Hills, and its hard to see how the plan passed muster on that issue, given that the master plan makes no discussion of traffic and had no traffic study done.
    Neither you, nor Mr. Torrano seems to understand that one of the many ways a legal actions “takes its course” by going to a settlement. You all heard what you wanted to hear. That’s not the mayor’s fault.

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