DuPage County, IL

islamic-center_DuPage.png

Description

A documented account of Case No. IL_13, occurring in DuPage County, IL, from August 2011 to June 2013

Creator

Tina Zhan

Proposed Project

The Islamic Center applied for a conditional use permit to convert a 212-square-feet residential property into a prayer space.

Outcome

The project moved forward several years later. The county board passed the proposal finally in June 2013, agreeing that the house could be used for religious purposes. The conditional-use permit was limited to a 5-year term and included a list of conditions.

Narrative

Key Events

In 2008, the Islamic Center of Western Suburban bought a house at 28W774 Army Trail Road and used it as a religious institution and food pantry. They made landscape changes in creating parking lots for their worshippers and held prays without applying for legal permits from the county. In 2010, the county board ruled them violating the zoning ordinances for their unpermitted uses of the legal property. The Islamic Center agreed to pay $7,000 in fine. The district’s zoning rules stated that houses for certain non-residential uses should be approved by the county. On August 11th, 2011, the Islamic center submitted a conditional use application. On December 15th, 2011 and January 30th, 2012, public hearings were held, when the local residents raised concerns of flooding and traffic. In March, 2012, the county’s Zoning Panel reviewed the application and suggested to deny the proposal by a 6-1 vote. In April, 2012, the county development committee amended its application by a vote of 3-2. It added the conditions that the Islamic Center had proposed to county development committee and zoning board of appeals into the application. Ultimately, on May 8th, 2012, the county board reviewed the application and denied the approval on a 15-3 vote. Following the denial, the Islamic Center filed a lawsuit against the County of DuPage County in August 2012 for violating the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) as well as First, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The District Court ruled and directed the DuPage County to reconvene the hearings about application and initiate a new vote. On June 26th, 2013, the DuPage Board reviewed the application again and agreed to the request with a 10-7 vote. (Robert, 2013 June. 26th) Along with the approval, a list of conditions, including the one to limit total numbers of visitors to 166 a day and another one to limit the property to less than 30 worshippers in each of its daily prayer, were imposed on the Islamic Center.

Background on the local and Muslim communities

According to the Chicago Tribune, there were more than 400,000 Muslims in Illinois in 2010 compared to 50,000 Muslims in 1970s. Muslim leaders in Illinois were mostly well-educated and were able to exert influence. For DuPage county, it was not its first time being sued for not granting a conditional-use permit to a Muslim community. The Irshad Learning Center sued DuPage county in 2010 over a planned Islamic education facility near Naperville (see Case No. IL_01). The federal judge overturned the county’s decision and ordered the county board to issue the required permits and to pay the Irshad Learning Center $445,000 (Robert, 2013, June 26th).

Details about the proposed project

The Islamic center applied for a conditional-use permit to convert a house into a prayer space, allowing Muslims in the community to come and pray five times daily. It proposed to let not more than 30 people be in the 212-square-feet house at a time and to make certain landscapes changes such as parking lots to accommodate those attending prayers (Robert, 2011, Dec. 17th).

Details about the conflict as it unfolded

The county of DuPage rejected the proposal for several reasons: First, residents were afraid of potential flooding if the house was being used as a prayer place because of the limitations of the original septic system that had been designed for single-family use. In addition, the proposed landscape changes would alter the food plain where residents’ basements had flooded previously. (Mary, 2013. May. 31st). Second, county officials and residents voiced concerns about the impact of the proposed 20-space parking lot on traffic. Neighbors complained that it blocked their drive ways when people attended daily prayers. County officials were also concerned that worshippers would park on the neighboring Pine Court. Third, officials and residents believed that it was an improper use for a house that had been built for residential uses instead of religious purposes.

Outcome and Current Status

In March 2013, the court directed the county to reconvene hearings about the application according to 2011 zoning standards (Versaci 2013). In June 2013, the DuPage County Board approved the application by a vote of 10 to7 with some added conditions: The conditional-use permit would expire after 5 years. Other conditions included a maximum number of 166 visitors per day, fewer than 30 attendees at any one of the daily prayers, and not holding congregational Friday services or festivities during Ramadan at the site.

Collection

Citation

Tina Zhan, “DuPage County, IL,” U.S. Mosque Controversies, accessed January 20, 2022, https://usmc.ecdsomeka.org/items/show/11.

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