WEST CHICAGO – West Chicago area residents continued to express worry and frustration about a proposed prayer center in their neighborhood at the third public hearing of the DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals held in recent weeks concerning the project.
“I'm calling this a passive aggressive attack on our neighborhood,” said Kevin Wiley, who lives on a property adjacent to the site of the proposed center.
Islamic Center for Western Suburbs is seeking a conditional-use permit to convert the single-family home at 28W774 Army Trail Road into a worship center. Renovations would include additional parking, landscaping, fencing, drainage controls, removal of the home's southern driveway and partial removal of its western driveway, according to previous reporting from Suburban Life Media.
The public hearing began May 20, continued May 30 and concluded June 6.
Primary concerns among residents included traffic congestion, septic failure and sewage flooding onto neighboring properties.
Resident Jacqueline Sitkiewicz, who owns an adjacent property, said previous homeowners were unable to hold large events without porta-potties because the septic system couldn't accomodate the crowds.
Environmental Health Services Plan Review Supervisor Michael DeSmedt determined the maximum capacity of the site's septic tank and field to be 166 people per day. The maximum occupancy of the Center is 30 people and the Center will hold prayer meetings five times daily, said attorney and Center representative Mark Daniel.
DuPage County rejected the application in May 2012, but was directed by U.S. Magistrate Judge Sheila Finnegan to reconvene the application hearing after the Center sued the County in August 2012 on grounds of unfair request denial, Suburban Life Media previously reported.
The hearing was held under the zoning ordinance in place August 2011, when the application was originally submitted, and the plans were to remain unchanged from those discussed at the time of the application's rejection.
Several neighbors said that the site of the proposed Center is improperly maintained. The grass is uncut, gutters are falling down and the house needs to be painted, they said.
Daniel said his clients do maintain the property, in an interview after the hearing.
Assistant DuPage County State's Attorney Tony Hayman also attended the June 5 meeting to clarify how the new public hearing fits into the lawsuit process.
“It gives the neighbors and other interested parties the opportunity to come forward,” he said. “We would expect, specifically, to be consistent with Judge Finnegan's mandate.”
The zoning board will hold a recommendation hearing July 11.