DuPage zoning board rejects mosque proposal

January 14, 2011

By Odette Yousef

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DuPage County's zoning board has denied a second Muslim group its approval to build a mosque in as many months. The Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America, or MECCA, wants to tear down a house on five acres of unincorporated DuPage County, and build a new structure for worship.
 
The Center’s bid failed 5-2. Zoning board members in the majority said they were concerned about having too many religious institutions in that part of the county.  “I just haven't seen it in 16 years of practice, where oversaturation has become an issue,” said Mark Daniel, attorney representing MECCA. “It's almost as if there's a suspension of the zoning ordinance for an application, which is something that you really can't have in these processes.”
 
While MECCA members say they are baffled by the board’s decision, they haven’t given up hope on the project. The proposal still goes to the county’s Development Committee next month. The committee could either take or reject the zoning board’s recommendation.

In December, the DuPage County’s zoning board denied approval for another group, the Islamic Center of the Western Suburbs. That group wants to convert a house near West Chicago into a mosque. At the same time, DuPage County is also considering a controversial amendment to its zoning ordinance which would ban all new places of assembly – including religious institutions -- from unincorporated residential parts of the county.