Naperville Sun: County committee lobs mosque back to zoning board

The Islamic Center of the Western Suburbs got a thumbs-down from the DuPage County Zoning Board of Appeals, but a

CountyBoard committee wants the group to take another look.

The zoning panel voted 6-1 last month to recommend denial of the conditional use permit needed for a worship center on land the ICWS owns on Army Trail Road near West Chicago. Numerous neighbors of the site have urged the county to turn down the permit.

Zoning board members said their decision was based on their understanding that the septic system on the site could not support the anticipated use of the property.

Development committee chairman Tony Michelassi told the roomful of residents who came to Tuesday’s meeting that the ZBA ruling came before new evidence was sent in a letter from the Health Department relating to the request.

Among those in the audience was anti-Muslim activist Constance Gavras of South Elgin, who requested that contact information be widely shared for Naperville attorney Kevin Gallaher, who represents the ICWS.

County attorney Anthony Hayman said the new input needs to be added to the hearing record, which began with a public hearing in late August that was continued several times before it was closed last month.

“This letter directly pertains to the denial of the zoning permit,” Hayman said.

According to committee member Dirk Enger, the Health Department determined that the existing septic field could support the 30-worshipper use level included in the permit request.

The ZBA hearing is tentatively set for Feb. 7 in the cafeteria of the county administration building, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton. The time has not yet been determined.

“The information has to come out, based on every fact related to this request,” said Enger, whose district includes the site of the proposed center.

All seven members of the ZBA, along with 10 County Board members and former chairman Bob Schillerstrom, are named in a pending federal complaint alleging they erred a year ago when they turned down an Islamic school and worship center planned for a three-acre site on 75th Street just east of Naperville. Both sides are waiting for a ruling from Judge Rebecca Pallmyer on the county’s request that the suit be dropped.