Lake County Commissioners told a group of Muslims they could not build a 25,000 square foot mosque near Clermont. However, they said the decision had nothing to do with religious issues. (wink, wink)
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CF NEWS (H/T Rob) Neighbors noticed dozens of cars pulling up to a South Lake County home five times a day, but many only recently learned it was the home for the Islamic Center of Clermont. Members went before Lake County Commissioners Tuesday requesting a zoning permit to build a joint recreation and worship center on the 5-acre lot.
But neighbors challenged the request for the building, which could have been up to 25,000 square feet with room for 199 parking spots.
“It’s nothing against the mosque. It’s for the safety of our neighborhood. We choose to move there because of the peace and tranquility we have,” said Arnold Ceballos, who resides near the property.
(In a stroke of sheer genius) Thomas Pratt angered many in the crowd and some commissioners when he played a recording of the eardrum shattering Islamic Call to Prayer. “The loudspeakers are going to playing this at a 120 decibels,” Pratt said.
“I don’t think that’s really relevant,” said Commissioner Leslie Campione. With the two sides at a crossroad, the decision came down to the intersection of Hancock and Lost Lake roads.
County officials said Hancock Road already has too much traffic, and to accommodate the mosque, they’d have to spend $3.8 million to widen the road to four lanes. They told the Islamic Center they would also have to acquire right-of-way for turn lanes and water lines.
”If it were a close call, I would go in favor of the religious institution, but this isn’t even close,” Commissioner Jimmy Conner explained. The applicant, Anwar Latib, wasn’t convinced by the explanation.
“I appreciate they said they were not making this a religious thing, but we are getting shut down, and I question that when three churches were allowed to get zoning in that very vicinity,” Latib said. (DUH!)
Islamic Center members said they plan to continue meeting at the home while they figure out their next move. But at least two commissioners said they planned to see why code enforcement hadn’t responded to numerous complaints about the home being used as a place of worship.