Muslim Center and Neighbors Debate over Zoning Permit

July 2, 2003

Source: Chicago Tribune

On July 2, 2003 the Chicago Tribune reported that "neighbors have been complaining for four months about traffic and parking problems caused by Friday afternoon prayers at the... Muslim Educational Center [IL]. In April, when center officials presented plans to add a mosque and more parking to their property... neighbors successfully lobbied the Village Board to reject the expansion... Now some Morton Grove residents are asking village officials to enforce an ordinance that effectively would end the prayer services... At issue is a village ordinance that requires a special-use permit to hold large worship gatherings in a building--something the Muslim center has never had in its 13 1/2 years. Residents have begun collecting signatures for petitions, and [Pat] Kansoer has hired an attorney, who he hopes will help persuade village officials 'to do their sworn duty...' Center members, who have been attending prayer services at the school since it opened in 1990, say it is disingenuous for the neighbors to require a special permit now... Gil Peters, one of the neighbors, rejected that contention... 'I would feel the same if this was a Catholic group, a Lutheran group or a Jewish group,' he said. 'This isn't about religion. It's about zoning.'"