Des Plaines Journal: Bosnian Muslim Group Sues Des Plaines

The American Islamic Center of Chicago filed a lawsuit in federal court today (Monday) against the city of Des Plaines claiming the city violated its Constitutional rights by denying the center a zoning amendment to open a Bosnian Islamic religious and community center.

In June, the city’s zoning board unanimously recommended that aldermen grant a proposed zoning change that would have allowed the center in an industrial area at 1645 Birchwood Ave. In August, aldermen rejected that recommendation on a 5-3 vote citing concerns over traffic and safety.

Former Cook County Commissioner Tony Peraica is representing the American Islamic Center in the lawsuit. He cited Constitutional First and Fourteenth Amendment violations in the lawsuit.

“By denying the zoning relief requested by the American Islamic Center, Des Plaines contravened the standards set forth in its own zoning ordinance, the city’s comprehensive plan, and expert findings analyzing American Islamic Center’s plans,” Peraica said in a written statement. “We believe that the city council’s decision was specious and violated federal law. RLUIPA (Land Use & Institutionalized Persons Act) was designed to protect religious institutions facing such baseless denials of zoning changes.”

City Manager Mike Bartholomew was not immediately available for comment Monday.