The Warren Planning Commission voted 5-3 Monday night to approve the Islamic Organization of North America’s plan to build the first mosque in the city.
The vote came minutes after an initial 4-4 vote that would have led to an automatic tabling for two weeks until the next commission meeting. The matter is being monitored by the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure the civil rights of the organization and its president, Steve Elturk, are not violated.
Nearly two hours of discussion from residents and commission members preceded the votes. One resident wanted a guarantee from the organization that it wouldn’t have ties to terrorists.
The Islamic Organization of North America bought the building in August, and received a variance on Jan. 25 from the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals to open the center in a commercially zoned area. That variance also said the center could not place a loudspeaker on the building to broadcast the five daily calls to prayer.
Despite the written agreement, at the March 13 planning commission meeting, several residents and commissioners cited the external loudspeaker, parking and traffic concerns. It rejected the proposal, 6-3. Elturk addressed some of the concerns and presented his plans to the board again.
City spokesman Joe Munem said Monday that the Justice Department sent a letter to the city, informing it that the situation was being monitored. Elturk said two members of the department called him after his first proposal was rejected.
Commission members voting against the mosque said there was no discrimination, but that they were worried about traffic issues. The site is on Ryan, just south of 12 Mile.