Mosque Developers Ask West Bloomfield Township to Table Plans
At a Zoning Board of Appeals site visit Tuesday, officials tabled two requests from the Islamic Cultural Center.
Developers of a mosque at the corner of 14 Mile and Middlebelt Roads in West Bloomfield Township have requested that plans slated for review at the Planning Commission's Oct. 23 meeting be tabled.
That request, which Islamic Cultural Association (ICA) representatives said was made to address concerns, led the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) to table requests for a determination on height limitations for some of the building's architectural features and for an exemption from a requirement to build a masonry wall on the west property line.
During a Tuesday site visit, residents during public comment raised a number of issues, from whether it is appropriate to have a 3-4 story building on the property, to concerns about traffic.
Long-time resident Mel Sternfeld, who lives near the school, arranged to have a boom truck present that would raise its boom to a height of 50 feet to show the scale of the project.
"We are on private property," ZBA chair David Robertson said, noting the "liability involved in something of that magnitude". He added the applicant was not willing to allow it. Instead, Sternfeld set up the boom in an adjacent neighborhood, so that it was visible from the property.
ICA representatives provided some perspective by pointing out the height of trees and other landmarks on or adjacent to the property.
Board members raised a number of questions about the height of spires, domes and a minaret. Several said they would oppose granting an exemption for the masonry fence requirement. ICA attorney Richard Rattner, in response to questions raised at the Oct. 4 meeting, said a 6-foot fence on the west side of the property belongs to neighbors. The ICA would be willing to repair and maintain that fence, with the homeowners' permission, he said, and the area in front of then fence would be landscaped.
Board secretary Cherie Van Vliet noted there was no requirement for residents to maintain the fence. She was concerned that ICA representatives had not talked with residents about the wall.
"In light of that, I don't think the township should waive its wall requirement," she said. If the ICA builds the wall, she said, the landscaping proposed should remain in place.
During the meeting, Robertson reminded residents several times that the ZBA's scope was limited, and he encouraged residents and ICA representatives to set up a meeting to discuss neighborhood questions, which he said were "very appropriate", in his personal opinion.
"They are definitely questions I would be asking," he said.
The board previously approved new construction of paved parking areas, and for the largest of two domes to be built at a height exceeding the maximum allowed in the township.