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Update: Public Hearing for Mosque Developers Rescheduled

Islamic Cultural Center development at former site of Eagle Elementary School now goes before township Zoning Board of Appeals Oct. 4.

A public hearing scheduled regarding the site of the former Eagle Elementary School in West Bloomfield has been moved, to accomodate the Jewish Sukkot holiday.

The Township Zoning Board of Appeals will meet on Thursday to discuss a number of variances to the site plan for the Islamic Cultural Association, a local organization which hopes to build a mosque/community center at the site formerly used by Farmington Public Schools.

Township attorneys have requested that the ZBA interpret the township zoning ordinance with regard to several issues raised at the Aug. 15 Planning Commission meeting — including the height of the minaret and dome atop the mosque portion of the building, the size of the setback from the street, and the fencing separating the property from neighbors.

The ZBA will still meet at its originally-scheduled date Tuesday, however with one less item on the agenda.

Both public hearings begin at 5:30 p.m. in West Bloomfield Town Hall.

Timothy Rath September 29, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Sylvia: I believe we've reported previously on a "gentleman's agreement" between the township and the developers to not broadcast a call to prayer. It's obviously an issue which will effect people every day and we'll be sure to follow it. As to the size of the minaret or dome in comparison with other buildings in the township, Susan, I will have to follow up. Thanks for your comments!
Susan Holland September 29, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Timothy - Thanks for checking on that - I recall their being some type of height restriction (not even allowing variances for signs on fast food restaurants) throughout the township. Sylvia - I wasn't even thinking about the potential drop in property value, that's a good point. I live fairly close and have already (like most) taken a substantial hit on my property value. Honestly, a "gentleman's agreements" makes me uncomfortable and could impact property values for it's vagueness and lack of legal authority. I have a friend in Livingston Co. who lives by a shooting range and the "handshake agreement" they had on decible levels went out the window with change of ownership. Change of leadership within the Mosque could present the same problem. All I know is I certainly can't take another hit on my property valuation - unless of course the township wants to substantially reduce my property taxes as a result.
americans2 September 29, 2012 at 03:51 PM
The board will be sorry what they have done. What ever goes around comes around!
Sue Burstein September 29, 2012 at 09:32 PM
A "gentleman's agreement?" That is hysterical. Especially when you match their previous comments to the actuality of what they are proposing. Let's start with original comments made at the June 14, 2011 school board meeting for a start that they have no intention building a mosque. That seems to have changed. And what about this quote from a recent West Bloomfield Patch article, "Representatives of the ICA will not seek variances from the township's zoning ordinance. However, their site plan must first be approved by the township board as the property is zoned in a residential area." http://westbloomfield.patch.com/articles/we-are-not-strangers-to-the-area-assures-new-eagle-owner Seems that one too, has quickly changed. So when they say there is a gentleman's agreement, I would require they put it in writing, If not, soundproofing may be in order for homes in the area. Someone here is not being completely honest...are they? Why the talking out of both sides of their mouths?
Sue Burstein September 29, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Go to http://www.care4eagle.com for some renderings of the building. The minaret is approximately 45 ft. high,. The majority if not all of the other buildings are single story, with the exception of St. Colemans, and the clock tower which I believe does not exceed 2 stories - approx. 20 ft. That makes it more than twice as tall as any othe structure in the area. Also, the tallest structure on the school was the chimney at about 30 ft. But, the property, while owned by the district was exempt from any WB zoning ordinances because FPS is it's own governmental entity, and WB has no authority over them. Now that has changed with the sale. Additionally, the other religious institutions in the area have significant setbacks and buffers to not intrude on the character of the neighborhood. This structure, may also require setback variances, as it appears to comes quite close to both 14 mile and Middlebelt rds. My understanding is there is NO REQUIREMENT under any law either federal, state or local, that requires that these variances be given just because it is a religious institution. Would they give them to just anyone building? Of course not. So, the zoning board must be held to a standard that maintains the character of the neighborhood, or otherwise have a really good reason for not doing so. I also believe there maybe remedies in court for community members if they feel the ZBA failed to do their job in doing so. I suggest you educate yourself as to your recourse.

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