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It's Official: Norwalk Mosque Gets a 'No'

NORWALK, Conn. – Months of debate came to a close Wednesday night as Norwalk's Zoning Commission voted 4-3 to deny a controversial application to put a mosque in a Norwalk neighborhood, citing concerns about the parking and traffic.

Supporters of the mosque planned for 127 Fillow St. say they would consider taking legal action.

The only commissioners who chose to speak on the matter were those who voted against the resolution denying the application.

Mike Mushak said he was voting no because he didn't like certain items in the resolution but said he would have voted against the proposal itself because he was concerned about traffic.

Nathan Sumpter tried to persuade his fellow commissioners to reconsider and vote for the mosque. "All citizens of Norwalk deserve a house of worship, and I believe that their plan will also minimize the impact on this neighborhood," he said. "I urge my fellow commissioners to take a second prior to the vote, realizing that is so important for people to be able to worship."

Adam Blank argued for a modified version of the mosque but did not mention how he would vote on the resolution. "The proposed Islamic Center will have a substantial negative impact on the neighborhood and surrounding areas and upon public health, safety and welfare of the community," he said.

The members of Al Madany Islamic Center were upset by the vote.

"We are obviously very disappointed by tonight's outcome," said Farhan Memon, spokesman for the center. "We believe that the commission, in rendering its decision, acted illegally in disregard of both the facts and the law, as its been in both Norwalk zoning regulations as well as the various court decisions that have opined on what some of these technical terms mean tonight – accessory use, parking, etc., etc.

"So I believe that the commission is just wrong both in the facts and also wrong in the law, and in the coming days we are going to take the opportunity to examine what our options are and decide what our next step is going to be."

Israel Herskowitz, president of the Stonegate Condominium Association, said he was "pleased" with the ruling and deferred further questions to his lawyer.

"With the facts, the circumstances of this particular case, we think that was the correct ruling," said Attorney Marc Grenier. "We are very pleased with the result. We're happy that the zoning commission took the effort to go through everything in depth, and they made a rational decision which is well supported by the evidence."

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