NJ: MOSQUE PRESSES LEGAL BATTLE TO BUILD IN WAYNE
A group of first- and second-generation Albanian Muslims has proposed to build a mosque and community center on a hilly spot in the township. But first, they’ve had to learn about municipal land use codes and federal civil rights law.
In April, the Albanian Associated Fund will go before a federal court judge in Newark with its complaint alleging that Wayne has discriminated against the religious organization by trying to take the property on Colfax Road through condemnation instead of approving the mosque plan. Township officials argue that the property’s rocky terrain and hills are not suited for development and should be preserved as open space.
Roman Storzer, the lawyer representing the Albanian Fund in the federal case, said the town has thrown in numerous roadblocks during four years of hearings before the Planning Board. The zoning on the 11-acre-site between Colfax Road and Hamburg Turnpike allows for houses of worship, he said.
Members of the Albanian Fund, who say they just want a place to pass on their heritage to their kids, also tried to appease the town with such actions as scaling back plans for a community center.
“They should have been, if they were treated like everyone else, allowed to come in and get a building permit,” Storzer said.