The U.S. Department of Justice launched a civil rights investigation of the Lilburn mosque controversy that began when the Lilburn City Council voted 4 to 0 to deny a rezoning request by the local Muslim congregation of Dar-E-Abbas for a 20,000-square-foot mosque, cemetery and gymnasium on about 8 acres at U.S. 29 and Hood Road
Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne confirmed that the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division is investigating the city of Lilburn’s treatment of a local mosque seeking to expand.
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The U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division issued a statement to Channel 2 saying “The department has an ongoing investigation and declines further comment.”. . .
[Attorney for the Mosque] said one of four things could result from the DOJ investigation:
–DOJ could do nothing
–DOJ could intervene as a party in a current lawsuit
–DOJ could file a friend of the court brief
–DOJ could file it’s own lawsuit
With just a skeleton of steel called ”the erector set” by residents, Avondale ended its six-year development agreement with Florida-based Century Retail for the planned 375,000-square-foot mixed-use development in downtown Avondale Estates. A victim of the economy, Century Retail filed for bankruptcy and defaulted on its development agreement owing Avondale a completed project and $37,500. The city now waits for the bankruptcy and ownership of the property to be resolved.
“Yes, we want to be proactive,” [Avondale City Commissioner David Milliron] said. “We want to facilitate conversations [with developers]. We really want to get going on some project. But we can’t do anything until we know who the next landowner is.”
Dunwoody filed a lawsuit this week against DeKalb County alleging that the county owes it more than $7 million for Brook Run park. The City sued for the balance of the $11.5 million county voters approved for the park in a 2005 bond referendum.
Following a unanimous denial by its Planning Commission, the Lilburn City Council deadlocked at 2 in favor and 2 opposed to the rezoning request that would have allowed Dar-E-Abbas to construct a 20,000-square-foot mosque on four acres at U.S. 29 and Hood Road. The tie vote equals a denial and rejection of the rezoning application.
The issue will now proceed back to federal court for a judge to decide.
Citing feasibility, the Lilburn Planning Commission voted 4-0 to recommend denial of the rezoning request by Dar-E-Abbas for a 20,000-square-foot mosque on four acres at U.S. 29 and Hood Road. According to the AJC, the Planning Commission members took issue with everything from buffers and parking to the potential for noise and water runoff.
“This board does not change zoning on the flip of a coin,” Commissioner Mike Hart told more than 70 residents at city hall. “We have to change zoning understanding that the project will work, and this site plan doesn’t communicate that this project will work.”
“All of the discussion about compliance with traffic and hydraulics and buffers and setbacks can be dealt with in the permitting stage,” Dillard said. “The bottom line is, by denying it, they are still taking away the constitutional right that this congregation has to worship in free and peaceful assembly and that’s wrong, and I’m very disappointed in the planning commission.”
The rezoning application and the Planning Commission recommendation now head to the City Council for a final vote.
This recent Planning Commission decision is the latest in a yearlong dispute over the planned Mosque. In November 2009, the Lilburn City Council denied a similar rezoning request sought Dar-E-Abbas, which led to a federal religious discrimination lawsuit against the city. The lawsuit is on hold through January.
T-Mobile has sued the City of Johns Creek following the City’s denial of its application to build a 134-foot cell tower on Rogers Circle.
The Johns Creek decision came after a public hearing in which five people, including a representative of the current owner of the property, spoke against the tower.
Resident Lisa Muzi presented the council with a petition signed by more than 700 residents in opposition to the tower.
Jay Stroman, vice president for advancement at Young Harris College, said as trustee of the property, the college is committed to maintaining its value. A cell tower, he said, could diminish the property value by as much as half, he said.
The college assumed ownership of the property in July, following the death of the former owner whose family had been working with T-Mobile.
City council members pointed out that the proposed site is in one of Johns Creek’s last rural areas and contains numerous historic sites. They also said they were not convinced the company explored alternatives to the site.
In its court filing, attorneys for T-Mobile said the company performed all the studies and met all the requirements set out in the city’s ordinance. It further acceded to any conditions for landscaping and buffers recommended by the planning staff.
The council’s decision, the company attorneys argued, was made in bad faith and has caused T-Mobile unnecessary trouble and expense.
Facing 300 residents waving “NO” signs, the Gwinnett County Commission voted 3-0 to reject a special use permit that would allow Bill Head Funeral Home on Lawrenceville Highway to construct a 436-square-foot incinerator and crematory. The Commission vote follows the Planning Commission denial recommendation.
The AJC reports that the meeting drew the attention of State Senator Steven Henson who hinted at state involvement on the impacts of a crematory on surrounding communities.
After Tuesday’s hearing, state Sen. Steve Henson told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he believes the General Assembly needs to re-examine data over crematories.
“I do think there’s every cause for concern,” he said.