DuPage not ready to issue permit for mosque - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

DuPage not ready to issue permit for mosque

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DUPAGE COUNTY, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Planners of an Islamic worship center just over the eastern edge of Naperville are still awaiting a permit from DuPage County.

Officials have yet to respond to a March 29 federal ruling that found the county erred in January 2010 when it denied a conditional use permit for the Irshad Learning Center. The organization of local families wants to open a mosque and Saturday school on a three-acre parcel on 75th Street that most recently was home to a preschool.

The property abuts subdivisions where some residents vigorously objected to the proposal, predicting the center would bring unwanted traffic, noise and potential flooding problems.

Northern Illinois U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca R. Pallmeyer opined that the county violated constitutional provisions protecting the group's religious freedom, but did not discriminate against the members, most of whom hail from Iran and have lived in the Naperville-Lisle area for many years.

Pallmeyer did cite the influence of local activists in the county's decision process, however. Some opposed to the project pressed for its rejection "for reasons that suggest religious, racial, or national origin bias and prejudice," she wrote.

Kevin Vodak, the attorney representing Irshad's board in the complaint, was hopeful the County Board would resolve promptly the task of approving the necessary ordinance, according to Pallmeyer's order.

"We are also in the midst of presenting a settlement demand to recover damages and attorneys' fees," said Vodak, litigation director for the Chicago chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, in an April 8 email. "We are hopeful that the County Board will address all of these matters at the April 23, 2013 meeting."

The topic is not among the items on the agenda for the board's Tuesday morning session.

County officials have been generally mum on Pallmeyer's decision. Paul Darrah, spokesman for State's Attorney Robert Berlin, wrote in an April 8 email that "we have read the Judge Pallmeyer's decision and at this time we are weighing our options," declining additional comment.

A response had not yet been formulated a week later.

"We are still reviewing the judge's summary judgment," County Board spokeswoman Johnna Kelly wrote April 15.

The board could discuss the ruling, and the county's response, behind closed doors Tuesday. The meeting agenda includes the option of convening in executive session to address pending litigation.

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