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West Chicago

DuPage County approves Islamic center near West Chicago

WEST CHICAGO – Islamic Center of Western Suburbs will be allowed to use a residence near West Chicago as a worship center, following the DuPage County Board's decision to grant the group a conditional use permit.

The board's 10-7 vote on June 25 reversed its previous decision to deny the center a permit to use the single family home at 28W774 Army Trail Road for worship.

"I'm going to vote in favor of this, not because I'm intimidated, not because I'm fearful of a federal lawsuit, and certainly not because it's the easiest thing for me to do," board member Sam Tornatore said. "I'm going to vote in favor of it because for me, with the facts that I have in front of me, it's the right thing to do."

After the center filed a lawsuit in response to the initial decision, a federal judge ruled that the county reconsider the permit application, leading to a series of public hearings with the DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals in May and June and a new vote by the county board.

The permit will last for a minimum of five years, at which time the center could petition the county for a continuation of its conditional use of the property, according to county records.

Records show the permit includes 19 conditions that address plans, ownership and timing, permits, occupancy and use and general operations.

"Doesn't that give a red flag to anybody that maybe this isn't a good location for this at this point?" said board member Jim Zay, who added that he doesn't remember another instance when so many conditions were included in a permit.

Some of the proposed center's neighbors also voiced concerns regarding flooding, septic failure, traffic congestion and property maintenance at the board meeting and previous public hearings on the permit application.

Mark Daniel, the attorney representing Islamic Center of Western Suburbs in the pending lawsuit, said his clients are happy with the decision to approve the conditional use permit.

Next steps for Islamic Center of Western Suburbs include design and fundraising efforts and obtaining other required permits relating to building, grading and health, Daniel said. His clients also hope communication with neighbors will improve over time.

Planned renovations to the property include additional parking, landscaping, fencing, drainage controls, removal of the home's southern driveway and partial removal of its western driveway.

There is no proposed opening date for the center at this time, Daniel said.

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