Bullitt County, KY

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Description

In February 2013, the Bullitt County Board of Adjustments rejects the Louisville Islamic Center’s application for a conditional-use permit for an Islamic cemetery on land zoned agricultural. Several citizens had voiced concerns over groundwater, traffic, and aesthetics. Later in 2013, the Louisville Islamic Center acquires land in nearby Louisville, KY to successfully establish an Islamic cemetery.

Creator

Bryce Bentinck

Year

2013

Proposed Project

The Louisville Islamic Center seeks to build a cemetery on a 10-acre plot zoned for agricultural use.

Outcome

Following the denial in Bullitt County, the Louisville Islamic Center receives the necessary conditional-use permit to form the Green Haven Cemetery in Louisville, KY, in December 2013. The cemetery remains operational to date.

Narrative

In February 2013, the Bullitt County Board of Adjustments denied a conditional-use permit to the Louisville Islamic Center for a cemetery project in Mount Washington. The Louisville Islamic Center was hoping to use the permit to purchase 10 acres of land zoned agricultural to establish an Islamic cemetery for their community in nearby Louisville, Kentucky. Previously, the community had to drive 46 miles to Elizabeth, Kentucky, to bury their dead (O'Neill, 2013, August 24). The Bullitt County Board of Adjustments rejected the permit on August 16 to loud applause from the citizens in attendance. The Islamic Center decided to look for another property. It received the necessary approvals from the Louisville Metro Board of Zoning Adjustments in the neighborhood of Buechel in December 2013.

The property in Mount Washington was a piece of agricultural land that required a conditional-use permit as a cemetery. Many nearby citizens showed up at the Board's meeting to oppose the project. Neighbors voiced concerns about increased traffic, groundwater safety, and community character changes (Bullitt County, Kentucky: Residents' opposition fuels rejection, 2013, February 27). In addition, the property was located on a gravel road that was only 15 feet wide. The county ordinance required at least 22 feet for a two-lane street. The Louisville Islamic Center addressed some of the concerns clarifying that they had had fewer than 40 burials from the community within the last ten years. In support of the Louisville Islamic Center, attorney Greg Ehrhard addressed issues such as traffic (giving 20 feet of land to the town for widening the road), character maintenance (agreeing to an 80-ft setback from Hubbards Lane and a 6-ft white perimeter fence). He also cited the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Beyond these concerns, citizens claimed the cemetery would be detrimental to their children in various ways. Moreover, opponents maintained their community's beliefs could not coexist with those of the Islamic faith and that the cemetery would be a "slap in [the] face" of US veterans "given the incidents of the past 11 years" (Bullitt County, Kentucky: Residents' opposition fuels rejection, 2013, February 27). The Board rejected the permit, stating that the cemetery did not maintain harmony within the community. 

The Louisville Islamic Center abandoned plans for a cemetery at the proposed site and began looking for a different property. Later in 2013, the group applied for a conditional-use permit on Action Blvd in Louisville, KY. The land was adjacent to another large cemetery. The case manager for the Louisville Metro Department of Codes and Regulations asserted that the cemetery and burial practices did not present any issues. The leaders of the Louisville Islamic Center met with neighbors of the property to address concerns over water quality due to casket-free burials. When the Muslim community demonstrated that the burial method was safe, neighbors had no opposition to the cemetery project. In the public input session, few residents showed up, and no one voiced any opposition to the project. On December 16, 2013, the Louisville Islamic Center received the conditional-use permit. The Green Haven Cemetery (GHC) remains operational to date.

References

  • Bullitt County, Kentucky: Residents’ opposition fuels rejection of Islamic cemetery. (2013, February 27). Courier-Journal. Retrieved from https://islamophobiawatch.co.uk
  • O’Neill, T. (2013, November 24). Muslim community seeks cemetery in Ky. Courier-Journal. Retrieved from www.usatoday.com

Collection

Citation

Bryce Bentinck, “Bullitt County, KY,” U.S. Mosque Controversies, accessed January 20, 2022, https://usmc.ecdsomeka.org/items/show/56.

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