WBEZ | Kevin Vodak http://www.wbez.org/tags/kevin-vodak Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Despite federal order, DuPage delays decision on mosque http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/despite-federal-order-dupage-delays-decision-mosque-107649 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DuPage Mosque.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In an unexpected move, the DuPage County Board put off a vote Tuesday morning to comply with a federal order that would allow a mosque to be built near Naperville. The Irshad Learning Center <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/muslim-group-claims-win-dupage-mosque-dispute-106420">recently won several major points in a lawsuit</a> it filed after the board denied permission in 2009 to use a residential lot for worship and gathering purposes.</p><p>&ldquo;We embrace the order, we respect the order, we will carry out the order,&rdquo; said County Board Chairman Dan Cronin. &ldquo;However, we would like to convey to the judge a concern about our process and what we feel is our duty.&rdquo;</p><p>In particular, Cronin said Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer&rsquo;s decision not only to reverse the board&rsquo;s past action, but also to instruct the board to revisit the issue, caused concern.</p><p>&ldquo;Whether the judge can direct the county or direct the agency, direct the building department,... or direct a county board member to vote differently from what his conscience would dictate... may not seem like a big difference for a lot of people,&rdquo; Cronin said, &ldquo;but for this body that takes their job very seriously, we&rsquo;d at least like to have a discussion with the judge about that.&rdquo;</p><p>Cronin said the board&rsquo;s attorney&rsquo;s will reach out to Judge Pallmeyer to ask if they might implement the order without taking another vote on the matter.</p><p>&ldquo;The issue here is that you have some legislators on the board that have a problem with being ordered by a court to vote a certain way on a certain proposal,&rdquo; said County Board Member Tony Michaelassi. Michaelassi supported the Irshad Learning Center&rsquo;s bid for conditional zoning use when the board voted on it previously.</p><p>&ldquo;So if we can get the decision enacted in some way that doesn&rsquo;t require a vote by the board, but instead we could comply with the order without the board taking a legally binding vote, that&rsquo;s what we&rsquo;re looking for,&rdquo; he added.</p><p>A lawyer from the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which represents the Irshad Center, said he hopes the board receives an answer soon.</p><p><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef </a>and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 11 Jun 2013 17:41:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/religion/despite-federal-order-dupage-delays-decision-mosque-107649 Muslim group claims win on DuPage mosque dispute http://www.wbez.org/news/muslim-group-claims-win-dupage-mosque-dispute-106420 <p><p>A federal judge has ruled that DuPage County was &ldquo;arbitrary and capricious&rdquo; when it denied permission for an Iranian Muslim group to build a mosque on a 3-acre residential property near west-suburban Naperville. Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer issued a 70-page summary judgment Friday that could force the county to reconsider the zoning petition of the Irshad Learning Center.</p><p>&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s significant not only for this one Muslim institution but all Muslim religious institutions who are facing problematic decisions by their local governments,&rdquo; said Kevin Vodak, an attorney with the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which represented the center. DuPage County has had a number of disputed zoning bids by mosques in recent years, but this is the only one that CAIR has stepped in to represent.</p><p>Judge Pallmeyer found the county did not discriminate against the Irshad Learning Center petition on the basis of religion but concluded &ldquo;the County imposed a substantial burden on ILC,&rdquo; violating state and federal laws that protect the freedom to exercise religion. The Irshad Learning Center case alleged that DuPage County violated certain religious protections afforded by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, the U.S. Constitution, and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act.</p><p>The zoning matter could now go back to the County Board. &rdquo;We&rsquo;re hopeful that the county fully complies with that decision,&rdquo; said Vodak, referring to the judge&rsquo;s ruling. &ldquo;If so then we will be seeking damages and attorneys fees based on our litigation in the case and Irshad&rsquo;s expenses having to maintain the property as it not being tax-exempt at this stage because they were denied the permit.&rdquo; Vodak said he has no estimate yet for total damages.</p><p>The petitioners purchased the property in 2008, hoping to turn it into a religious center that could accommodate roughly 25 families for Thursday evening services and weekend classes. But many neighbors and outside organizations objected to their petition for a conditional zoning use, calling into question figures that the Irshad Learning Center used in its bid. In particular, the objectors felt the petition did not accurately portray the intensity of use that the property would be subjected to.</p><p>A spokesman for DuPage County government said the county is reviewing the judgment and not presently commenting.</p><p><b id="internal-source-marker_0.11356477928347886" style="font-weight: normal;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her at </span><a href="https://twitter.com/oyousef" style="text-decoration: initial;"><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-style: italic; text-decoration: underline; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">@oyousef</span></a><span style="font-size: 16px; font-family: Arial; font-style: italic; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap;">.</span></b></p></p> Mon, 01 Apr 2013 17:38:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/muslim-group-claims-win-dupage-mosque-dispute-106420