Brookfield aldermen approve mosque – construction set for summer

Over objections of some residents who sought to table the project, the Common Council unanimously approved a mosque on Pheasant Drive intended to serve a growing Waukesha County Muslim community.

Brookfield aldermen unanimously approved plans for a nearly 13,000-square-foot mosque, to the joy of Waukesha County Muslims and chagrin of opponents who sought to table the project Tuesday.

The Common Council voted 14-0 Tuesday to grant a conditional use permit, with aldermen assuring residents the city had “thoroughly vetted” traffic and other site issues before green-lighting construction.

“We’re elated,” said Mushir Hassan, a Brookfield resident, physician and project leader for the mosque. “We live in a very sophisticated, educated community that understands that they’ve worked with, lived with, and dealt with Muslims and people of all different faiths and cultures on a regular basis,” Hassan said after the meeting.

The Islamic Society Milwaukee West has a fundraiser planned for Friday. Construction would begin in July with opening planned for spring 2013, Hassan said.

Mayor Steve Ponto, who voted in favor of the mosque last week as head of the city’s Plan Commission, said Tuesday he believed the city had been transparent and open with its mosque review. “I know that it’s a sensitive matter for some residents,” Ponto told Patch but added: “I really am confident that we will not have any problems.”

Ten residents urged rejection or tabling of the mosque plans, citing concerns ranging from traffic and future expansion to terrorism and use of Sharia or Islamic law to subvert U.S. laws.

Charles Cook of Hartland asked aldermen to write conditions into the development agreement barring Muslims from exercising Sharia law over city rules and regulations. Cook turned to face the audience. “I just want to say thank you for you Muslim people, for coming out and trying to build this mosque. This has helped the Christians to get out of the churches and take back America,” Cook said.

Five people urged approval, saying Muslims deserve a place to worship closer to home, just like every other religion enjoys. The city has about three dozen religious facilities. “We have all kinds of temples,” Brookfield resident Rafat Arian said. “The Sikhs have their temple, everyone has it. So why can’t the Muslims have it, too?”

Brookfield resident Beverly Kuntzsch told aldermen she was concerned about public safety. She said the New York Police Department surveyed 100 mosques nationwide in 2007 and found substantial ties to terrorism and “Jihad.” “How will you monitor the literature or the preaching / teaching of violence that’s going on in the mosques?” Kuntzsch asked.

Brookfield Patch, 15 May 2012