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DuPage Board denies petition to turn house into mosque

DuPage County’s Board of Commissioners Tuesday voted 16-2 against allowing a group of Muslims to use a house near west suburban Bartlett as a mosque. Members of the Islamic Center of Western Suburbs had hoped to win permission from the board to host gatherings of up to thirty people, five times a day, for prayers at the house on Army Trail Road in unincorporated DuPage County.

“It’s been a long haul — 3 years, 9 months, and two days, but who’s counting? — that we have fought against this petition,” said Jacqueline Sitkiewicz, who lives behind the property.

Sitkiewicz was one of dozens of nearby residents who spoke against the project before the Board took a vote. Sitkiewicz and neighbors argued that the proposed change would cause dangerous traffic, stormwater flooding and septic problems. They also faulted members of the faith group for illegally using the house as a worship center before it was zoned as such.

“I am glad this is over,” said Sitkiewicz. “It’s been hard to deal with them. They’ve not treated us very well. We’ve endured a lot, and I’m just so glad this is over.” Sitkiewicz added that she hopes the group will find another property for their services in a commercially-zoned area.

Mark Daniel, attorney for ICWS, said he was baffled by the Board’s vote. “The County Board, as it has in the past ... has disregarded its zoning ordinance entirely,” said Daniel. “This project was designed perfectly.”

Daniel said he has advised the leaders of ICWS to sue DuPage County’s Board of Commissioners over the denial. The County continues to fight another lawsuit filed in 2010 by members of the Irshad Learning Center, a Muslim group seeking to build another worship complex near Naperville, over a similar denial of a zoning petition. Last month, the County Board voted not to extend permission for the Muslim Educational Cultural Center of America, which will sit on a parcel near Willowbrook, to build a dome and minaret that would exceed county height limits.

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