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'We Are Not Strangers to the Area,' Assures New Eagle Owner

Open house offered a preview of the Islamic Cultural Association to come at the site of the closed elementary as debate of controversial sale continues.

Although some issues remain to be seen concerning the controversial sale of Farmington Public Schools' Eagle Elementary School building, new neighbors were given a preview of proposed construction at the site by the Islamic Cultural Association (ICA) of Franklin on Wednesday night.

Plans for the Muslim Cultural Center of West Bloomfield go before the West Bloomfield Township Planning Commission on Aug. 14. The property is located in the northwest corner of 14 Mile and Middlebelt Roads. 

Farmington school officials approved the building sale last June and have since been sued by two local residents 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.

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.

ICA board member Majeed Kadi, along with his management team working on the property, delivered an hourlong presentation in front of a peaceful audience of around 50 including congregants, neighbors, and police.

According to Kadi, the expensive renovation project which will add 9.4 percent of the elementary's square footage to the site is just a part of raising a family in town with a religious upbringing.

"We are not strangers to the area and we're proud that you'll see us," said the 17-year West Bloomfield resident. "We wanted to come to this building. We're basically a community, we want to raise our children, have a place to pray, congregate, and do our services, similar to many community services and places of worship you'll see."

Project manager Roger Young continued that the new building, which doubles as a mosque and a community center, could suit neighbors as well as members of the 150-member nonprofit organization. The size of the building will not differ dramatically from the elementary, nor would its elevation or building materials, comprised mostly of limestone and stucco of a similar color.

"We created a composition that has references to Islamic architecture but represents more of an American Muslim community," said Young, an architect. "We tried to create a sense of cohesion with what used to be there and what we'd like to put in there."

The site plan also includes improvements to the roads, landscaping, and water retention system, which Kadi said is being paid for by the ICA. Curbcuts, referring to areas of entrance and exit from the parking lot, will be reduced from six to three and the number of parking spaces will be increased to beyond what is required in the zoning ordinance.

Kadi continued that with hopes of appealing to neighbors, the traditional Islamic call to prayer will not be sounded in public.

Meanwhile, at , residents gathered to hear from Mt. Clemens attorney Robert Davis, who represents plaintiffs in , and Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for Thomas More Law Center, which  to investigate the transaction. 

The Aug. 14 planning commission meeting, held at , starts at 7:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Patch local editor Joni Hubred-Golden contributed to this report.

Dan Sperling August 09, 2012 at 01:56 PM
Hi... my name is Dan Sperling and I am the current President of Congregation B'nai Moshe. I want to clarify one thing in the above story. We did not "host" the meeting held by the opponents to the sale. We simply rented out our building for a community meeting (which we do often). We are a non-profit religious organization and do not "take sides" on political topics such as this. We believe in and advocate religious freedom for all faiths. If you wish to send me any comments, my email address can be found on our website. Thanks.
Timothy Rath August 09, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Dan: Thanks for your comment.
E B August 12, 2012 at 05:08 AM
I would suggest to everyone to take into account how locating an ICA building in Franklin has negatively affected its residents, police and City Hall. The same will happen in WB. When thousands of visitors will be attending events in the building, how will it impact the traffic in that area? How will the noise affect the quiet residential community? And if and when the ICA leadership will decide to start sounding call to payer, who and how will stop them?
Mary Duerksen August 13, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Dan As a local pastor (Sylvan Lake Lutheran Church) I applaud the Congregation B'nai Moshe for trying to serve the community through the use of your building. And I'm sorry if there was misinterpretation over that civic action. Your point is well taken and I'm glad to endorse it.
Scott Wood August 21, 2012 at 11:34 PM
I don't see how this is any different than any other church in the area. There are large churches all over the area. The size of this is not much bigger than the school that is there now so I don't think traffic will be that much different than when the school was open. As far a noise, I live a block from the middle school on 14 Mile and I hear kids playing, yelling and having fun out by the school all the time. Again I don't see how this can be louder than that. I welcome them to the area and look forward to the improvements they stated they are doing. It has to look better than what is there now. The only thing I would not want to see is the call to prayer in the neighborhood. They said they are not going to do it. I don't think they have done it for all the years they were in Franklin so I believe them when they say they are not going to start doing so now.

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