DuPage County has abandoned a bid to keep new places of assembly out of unincorporated residential neighborhoods. That's a major concession to those who feared new churches, mosques, and temples would be frozen out of the very communities they aim to serve. Instead, the county will look at specific measures to target the problems they've had with those gathering places, such as traffic congestion, water drainage and sewage capacity.
The county has sought changes to its zoning ordinance because officials say some areas lack infrastructure to support heavily-used gathering places. But County Development Committee Chairman Tony Michelassi said it became clear that many DuPage religious organizations thought the proposed blanket ban was too severe. That’s why the committee told county staff on Tuesday to return to the drawing board and come back with alternative options at the committee’s March 1 meeting.
“There’s a sentiment among many [DuPage County] Board members that we’re close to reaching a solution here that’s equitable,” said Michelassi.
The county's new approach is encouraging to the religious groups that make up the umbrella organization DuPage United. Amy Lawless, the group’s Lead Organizer, said up until now, they felt completely cut off from the county’s consideration of the matter. “We went from no negotiation to some negotiation on restrictions so they don't lump everyone in one situation,” said Lawless.