New details were presented Tuesday night by the Islamic Cultural Association (ICA) of Franklin regarding its controversial purchase of Farmington Public Schools' Eagle Elementary School building.
Meanwhile, old accusations of the organization's legitimacy were brought to township government for the first time at
The joint planning commission/wetland review board meeting resulted in plans for a site visit being scheduled for Sept. 9. There, parties will be able to answer questions from the wetland board concerning a request to construct a storm water management system with a direct discharge to the Franklin branch of the Rouge River, where there currently is no system, according to the township.
The site plan and special land use approval request of the planning commission was tabled to another joint meeting scheduled for Oct. 23. Nabil Suliman, a member of the ICA, answered questions surrounding the projected cost of the proposed mosque and community center.
According to Suliman, the project could cost between $5 million and $6 million once completed during a two-phase process over 3-5 years or longer.
The planning commission also asked Suliman several questions surrounding the details of the organization which had been brought up during public comment, including the size of the congregation, the nature of religious services, and organization's purported support from organizations with ties to Middle Eastern terrorism.
"With all due respect, when we look at the world, we've got every right to ask these questions. It's an emotional issue, where the money is coming from," Trustee Jim Manna said.
Farmington school officials approved the building sale last June and have since been sued by residents Eugene Greenstein and Melvin Sternfeld who claim they would be negatively affected because they live near the property, and that stopping the sale would allow for a more-competitive bid process.
"We are going to continue to be engaged with the bigger community because we care ... we're not going to do any shortcuts," Suliman told the commission.
Representatives of the ICA will not seek variances from the township's zoning ordinance. However, their site plan must first be approved by the township board as the property is zoned in a residential area.
Several other residents questioned whether or not the size of the mosque's dome and its spires were a "compatible use" for the area, as well as the planning commission's wisdom in making a decision on the site plan prior to a U.S. Court of Appeals judge's ruling on the issue.
According to attorneys, the issue will be back in court Sept. 12.