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Stonegate Condo Association supports settlement of Al Madany suit

NORWALK, Conn. – The attorney for the Stonegate Condominium Association released this statement late Friday afternoon:

The board of directors of the Stonegate Condominium Association Inc. (“Stonegate”) announced today that it has unanimously approved Stonegate’s participation in a proposed settlement of the lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut known as Al Madany Islamic Center of Norwalk, Inc. v. the City of Norwalk, et al, 3:12-cv-00949-MPS, subject to drafting of a definitive settlement agreement by counsel.

In essence, the proposed settlement would end the lawsuit by permitting Al Madany to construct a mosque on the property opposite Stonegate’s property on Fillow Street, but in a different form and with different conditions of use than those that were proposed in Al Madany’s previous zoning permit application that was denied by the City of Norwalk. Among the changes would be

  • important restrictions on noise from the facility;
  • traffic calming measures on surrounding streets; and
  • a significant reduction in the floor space of the planned structure and a corresponding increase in space used for parking.

More complete details will be available from the city as the settlement process progresses.

“These protections were hard-won by the city’s corporation counsel in difficult negotiations, and are important for our residents, as well as for others in the neighborhood,” said Brian Bisceglia, the president of Stonegate’s board. He added, “we also appreciate that the settlement will protect the city’s taxpayers, including Stonegate, from the risk of damages exposure if the case were to be litigated, and we view an amicable resolution of the lawsuit, rather than a trial, as providing the best foundation for us and Al Madany to try to build a neighborly relationship in the future. This is a prudent compromise in difficult circumstances for all parties, and the right opportunity to settle.”

Stonegate intends to speak in favor of the approval of the settlement when the matter comes before the city’s Common Council, and invites other interested neighbors to do so, as well.

The statement was signed by Adam Mocciolo, legal counsel for Stonegate, of the firm Pullman & Comley LLC in Bridgeport.

 

Comments

23 responses to “Stonegate Condo Association supports settlement of Al Madany suit”

  1. Oldtimer

    At last, a voice of reason.

  2. isabelle hargrove

    In the interest of full disclosure, it is important to also report that this endorsement was bought with a $60,000 payout from the city to the condo association. I am sure that even with $60,000, it is a very bitter pill to swallow; especially since they are forced to remain silent, worse even, issue statements of endorsement although Mr. Coppola did not insist that al-Madany issues a statement refuting discrimination as part of this settlement. I was wrong Mayor Rilling did not capitulate; he plays for the other team and takes no prisoners…

  3. Fred Cummings

    @isabelle such muted criticism from you is so unbecoming. Why do you condem Rilling when your friends at the condo association basically sold out the neighborhood and have no ethics.

    Why does Stonegate get to become a tax-payer funded gated community and the other neighbors are left high and dry?

    Stonegate should get nothing. The fact that they could be so easily bought off is an indication of how shallow and ridiculous their objections (and yours for that matter) are.

    Finally how do we know that Stonegate will actually build a gate? The money will just disappear into their lawyers pockets.

    At least the mosque had a real reason to sue and hire lawyers. For Stonegate it was purely a choice and the rest of us shouldn’t pay for it.

    Come on Isabelle why aren’t you getting mad?

  4. John Hamlin

    This is a remarkable development involving a significant stakeholder. Is this essentially the end of the dispute?

  5. Aga Khan

    All’ s we’ll that ends well! Congratulations to Stone Gate. Now the name really fits. But will it be granite or gold?

  6. Sue Me

    Bloody hell. I live around the corner and have more problems with all the cars who come to visit the people who live in the condos and can’t find parking. I really hate it when they throw parties, invite a bunch of people, and then don’t have enough parking spaces. I think I’ll file a lawsuit against Stonegate and claim the gate for myself.

  7. Abdul Magid

    Now we can see what this is all about. The condominium people dont want Muslims and Arabs in their neighborhood. So in return for the mosque they forces the city of Norwalk to give them a gate to keep the Muslims out.
    I heard that this was being organized by a man named Israel. I hope this is not true. Mr Israel do you not remember when the Jewish were not allowed to live where they wants! How would it make you feel if there neighbor put the gate?

  8. NorwalkVoter

    It is remarkable. There was so much outrage saying that this must be stopped because the neighbors don’t want it. Well the neighbors were at the table and they have agreed to this settlement. Once again, we must take the political pot shots out of this. The political comments are stirring the pot in hopes of angering the West Norwalk NIMBY population. Significant stakeholders have agreed to settle. It is truly in the hands of the Zoning Commission. They must look at the facts and make a decision based on the law. Politics is just mucking up the issue and muddying the water here. Aren’t we reasonable, rational people?

  9. Jeff

    Did anyone think Stonegate wanted to carry on the financial burden to litigate? Simply put they bit off more than they could chew and were looking to exercise a stop loss against future litigation. I’m sure the residents are just as furious and remain opposed to the mosque but realized they would be in for a bigger financial exposure than they could handle. . . I’m sure the big dollar figures Councilman Kimmel is throwing around didn’t help.

    Editor’s note: The dollar figures in question were given to us by the outside attorneys retained by the city to defend against the suit. They would be the ones familiar with the potential cost of continued litigation, as their firms were the ones doing the billing. Councilman Kimmel used those figures in his comments.

  10. EastNorwalkChick

    So Stonegate approves, what about the rest of the surrounding area? Are these residents going to ask for reimbursement by the City also for their particular issues? The City has now set a precedence with this pay out, what is going to stop others for asking for some kind of monetary compensation…..this effects a heck of a lot more people than just Stonegate.

  11. Suzanne

    This is a capitulation due to the cost of potential litigation and has nothing to do with community values expressed against the size and scope of the building as well as the added pressures to traffic. I hope Stone Gate residents are satisfied with this legal-eagle solution. I wonder if they were under threat for the costs of actually protesting this incursion upon their neighborhood. I really resent the provocation that Muslims are an unwanted group in this neighborhood. We have accepted a variety of religions into our area and would welcome a mosque on the right sized lot in a safer location similar to the other institutions. Al-Madany chose not to do that and can now claim a “burden” upon their religious practice which basically is saying, “Discrimination!” Not the case AT ALL.

  12. One and Done

    $60,000. Sounds like a great price for a condo at Stone Gate. There goes the neighborhood.
    .
    Truly, I do feel sorry for those not represented faithfully by their board at Stone Gate who will wake up to realize their investment has just been cut in half.

  13. Scott

    Like the city, Stonegate’s aren’t as endless as Al Madany’s. They had to cut their losses or “die” trying. I’m curious though as to who required them to publicly endorse the settlement. This may sound extreme but don’t extremists make people denounce their countries before they are terminated. I would urge no one to gloat on this victory or else that could be the general perception

  14. John Hamlin

    So much for supporting the unchecked rights of property owners to do anything regardless of the consequences to neighboring properties and neighboring property owners — how has that worked out for Norwalk? The lesson here is to change the zoning regulations and the approach of the City so that property owners are protected. Time for real property protections. And maybe instead of worrying about farm stand signs, the City could worry about real impositions and real blight for a change.

  15. Seth

    Some very good points brought up by many of the contributors. While Kimmel has blabbed and blabbed the rest of the politicos have remained wisely silent on this issue. And if we are to true believe that the mosque was and is being discriminated against I wonder if the the property owner at 129 Fillow could use his land as a working farm? Complete with Roosters and Pigs?

  16. EastNorwalkChick

    John Hamlin, even if we changed the zoning regulations prior to their purchase of the property, I believe they still would have sued for discrimination. They have done it in other municipalities that had much stricter zoning laws in place than we have now and they won. They have learned to use the Federal Religious Freedom law to their advantage and to get what they want. Like Scott said, their pockets are deep and no match for municipalities or Condo Associations.

  17. Very Concerned

    Norwalk residents are not prejudice in any shape or form.

    The issues raised are not prejudice issues.

    There should be no, no payouts to any party.

    There are better and safer places to build the mosque in Norwalk.

  18. Dennis DiManis

    Large public facilities belong downtown. That’s what downtowns are for.

    As I understand it, some municipalities have prevailed in similar conflicts, while others have shared Norwalk’s unfortunate fate.

    The Islams’ endless money flow comes from where?

    It’s a dangerous invasion. No one will want to live there, not even the worshippers who will be perpetually driving in and then returning home to residential areas unblighted by an oversized public complex. The sect will buy the surrounding properties at fire-sale prices from fleeing longtime residents. Property values there will plummet, causing the rest of Norwalk to pay more tax.

    U.S. laws were never meant to enable such circumstancers.

  19. Aga Khan

    @eastnorwalkchick and @denis I really don’t know who the “they” are that you are referring to. Christians, Jews, Hindus, Bhuddists and Muslims have all been protected against neighborhood prejudices by RIULPA. As for “islam’s endless money flow”, let me let you in on a little secret…the majority of legal services were provided free of charge by Wilmer Hale? Why would a non-Muslim law firm do such a thing? Because they realize that prejudice and discrimination hurts us as a society. Good thing that they have such high morals too, the law firm has apparently written off their entire legal fee which is in the millions. WOW. What your comments do betray is blatant prejudice against Muslims. And I feel sorry that you are filled with such hate.

  20. UN Envoy

    Dennis DiManis, your reasoning that “public facilities” belong in downtowns must naturally extend to the mega-church St. Matthews just across the park from the mosque site, which is in the same AAA residence zone. St. Matthews membership includes 2,400 families, and has over 300 parking spaces, a catering hall, and classrooms that far exceed the size of the mosque, on narrow and windy Scribner Ave that is the same as Fillow.
    ;
    Would your theory also apply to two other large religious institutions in “residential” West Norwalk? They are Temple Shalom, the largest synagogue in Norwalk with hundreds of families that is also in a AAA residence zone on Richards Ave, and the United Congregational Church, also with hundreds of families as members.
    ;
    The mosque has 100 families as members, and 135 parking spaces. But you think that doesn’t belong in West Norwalk? And what about other “public facilities” in West Norwalk: the large restaurant in Oak Hills Park, the golf course, and 3 large “public” schools with roughly 500 students and 80 staff each?
    ;
    And please explain how only a couple of people from West Norwalk showed up to complain about the hundreds of cars expected every day at the proposed huge driving range and golf learning center in Oak Hills Park, just around the corner from the mosque site. It is very revealing that the same folks screaming bloody murder about traffic from the mosque, including the Republican Town Committee, were completely silent when a much larger traffic generator was proposed in the Oak Hills master plan just 2 months ago. Not a peep.
    ;
    Interesting. And despicable.

  21. anon

    @Chapman or @Kimmel, both traffic studies should be publicly available. This decision will affect all of Norwalk. Traffic has nothing to do with discrimination, and everything to do with good planning.

    FOR EXAMPLE:

    There are 16 mosques or Islamic centers in 16 cities in the State of Connecticut. The Fillow street location will be the largest in Connecticut, 5 times the size of Stamford’s.

    In comparison, 145 Connecticut cities have Catholic churches, many having more than 1. Norwalk has 5 Catholic churches. Stamford has 16.

    54 Connecticut cities have synagogues, many have more than 1. Norwalk has 4. Stamford has 7.

    This mosque is a regional destination. What happens to West Norwalk, yes. What happens to Connecticut Avenue and Route 1?

  22. Dennis DiManis

    I wouldn’t have voted to build any of the edifices described above in a residential area. None of them. I wasn’t here to complain when they were built. RLUIPA hadn’t been enacted yet either. Over the decades, downtown Norwalk continues to rot away while developers are encouraged to sully the residential landscape. This particular proposed oversized complex was opposed by everyone in town; capitalizing on unlimited funding to combat a struggling city’s meager resources and put up a building that no one wants is wrongheaded. Our area is laden with billionaires, many of whom would be Norwalk’s benefactor in this imbroglio if our public officials reached out to them.

  23. Dennis DiManis

    Also Mr Aga Khan, I’m not “filled with hate”, but you are filled with baloney.

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