New Jersey: Town Approves Mosque with Minarets That Will Tower Over Residential Neighborhoods
This is the same New Jersey town forced to pay $7.75 million to Muslims to build mega-mosque. Now they’ll have several hundred “mainstream Sunni Muslims” coming to their quiet neighborhood regularly…a number that will double very quickly. The town is so terrified of another round of litigation jihad it is bending the zoning rules every way possible to allow Muslims to do whatever they want on the land. Neighbors and traffic dangers be damned.
BRIDGEWATER, NJ – Despite concerns from residents about future planning and insufficient parking, the Bridgewater Township Planning Board unanimously approved an application Monday for an Al Falah Center mosque to be built on Route 202/206.
In December, the township approved a settlement with the Al Falah Center in regard to litigation concerning a proposed mosque on the former Redwood Inn site on Mountain Top Road.
The settlement agreement preserves the residential zoning on the Redwood Inn site, which was part of an ordinance approved in 2011 to remove houses of worship from sites in the township that do not front on a county, state or designated township road. In addition, the settlement settles all monetary claims related to the litigation.
In 2011, Al Falah sued the township after the ordinance was approved and while the application for a mosque was being heard by the planning board. Enacting the ordinance pushed the application to the zoning board for a variance to be on the Redwood Inn property.The settlement allows Al Falah to build a mosque on a site on Route 202/206, rather than the former Redwood Inn property on Mountain Top Road.
Hearings for the new mosque site began in late August with testimony from the applicant’s engineer, and indicated that the plans have changed from the original Redwood Inn application to actually include two buildings on 10.85 acres, one for the worship center and another for a school.
The applicant presented a few revised plans at Monday’s meeting, first determining that instead of the originally proposed five minarets on the building, there will now only be four. In addition, the applicant plans to lower the height of them by 8 feet, from 78 feet high originally to 70 feet.
West Foothill Road resident Robert Kurz said that still sounds too high for the area. He said he believes there is nothing in the area that will be as visible to residents as the minarets high above the trees.
“If I asked you what your impression of 70, 80 feet is, we would all have different impressions,” he said. “If I’m sitting in my backyard, I’m going to see four towers over the trees. I am asking you to consider not the physical details, but the aesthetic value of the neighborhood.”
But of most concern to many residents in attendance was the parking, and changes suggested by the applicant to provide additional parking if the congregation were to grow large enough failed to comfort them.
The applicant had already provided testimony that it will see 282 parking spaces on the property, about 55 more than is required by township ordinance.
Mitch Ardman, engineer for the applicant, said they have added three parking stalls in the southwesterly corner of the property, as well as seven additional stalls along the easterly entrance, bringing the total number of spaces to 292 on the property.
In addition, the applicant provided information about overflow parking that could be done on the proposed soccer field, if needed.
“It could fit 180 additional parking spaces on the soccer field,” Ardman said. “Access would be through the end of the existing parking lot, and a driveway would come down and people could park there.”
Lloyd Tubman, attorney for the applicant, emphasized that they are not currently proposing paving over the soccer field, just that if it were to ever become necessary because of the congregation growing, that is an option they have.[Already they are planning to almost double in size – hence the concerns of residents]
“We would have to come back for a preliminary site plan if we wanted to do that parking lot,” she said. “We are merely demonstrating the ability to provide banked parking, it would require a separate supplemental amendment. We are not doing that now.”
Planning board attorney Thomas Collins said the applicant has offered a condition with the application that there will be no parking on streets in the neighborhood, on Route 202/206, on the nearby Woodmont property, or any other adjacent properties.
“This would be a condition for the site plan, and would trigger moving to more than one worship service on the same day, and, if that didn’t work, they could go to an offsite location for more parking,” he said.
Tubman said that if services on the holidays attracted more people and vehicles than the applicant has currently accounted for, they would move to hold a second service or rent an offsite space for the service before even considering the option of paving over the soccer field for more parking.
Traffic engineer Gary Dean also recounted the amount of parking accounted for in terms of the proposed school, although he cited that schools are omitted from the town’s ordinance on parking requirements. According to calculations, 23 parking spaces are required for the elementary school component, 12 for middle school and 31 for the high school.
That’s a total requirement of 291 spaces for the property, Dean said, and the applicant is providing 292. [Earlier in the article it stated, “about 55 more than is required by township ordinance.” The math doesn’t add up. They are providing 1 more parking space than required, not 55.]
“I hope you can see that sufficient parking will be included on the site,” he said. “Recognizing the condition that has been offered
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