PLAINFIELD – Residents continue to speak out after a group was denied the chance to open a mosque on Route 126.
Five people spoke Monday at a Committee of the Whole Workshop meeting of the Plainfield Village Board.
The response comes after the Plainfield Community Center requested a special use permit from the village board that would allow a religious center to operate in a residential-zoned district at 23616 W. Main St.
However, because of a tie 3-3 village board vote Aug. 21, that request did not succeed.
Residents in the area of the building, a former Christian church and Montessori school, complained of potential traffic and parking issues in their quiet neighborhood.
Those opposed to the center who spoke during previous village meetings did not name religion as a reason to not welcome the Muslim center.
But many in support of the Muslim center believe discrimination is happening whether it’s obvious or not.
The Islamic Foundation of the South West Suburbs agreed to building capacity limits and parking limits that surpassed village expectations, but it didn’t seem to help.
Now, the IFSWS has a building it can’t hold prayers in.
The same group is getting support from people of other faiths, though.
“It’s not just a difficult time. It’s plain discrimination. It was a church. It was a school. And then it cannot be a prayer house? I can’t believe this, that my town, Plainfield, does this,” Plainfield United Methodist Church Lead Pastor Rev. Eun-Hye Choi said.
Holly Long, a 10-year resident of Plainfield who attends PUMC with her family, sent an email to board members after the August board meeting, which she attended.
She read the email at the Monday meeting.
“It was clear that the representatives from the proposed community center had done everything that was requested of them, and it seemed that they had gone above and beyond,” Long said. “They told us after the meeting that they came to the board before purchasing the land, and I feel the board has put them in an extremely difficult position of now owning land they cannot use.”
Long said she understands the traffic concerns but believes that is a separate issue.
“There has been a Montessori school there, there has been a church there, which would have similar, if any, impact on the traffic,” Long said.
Resident Perla Ramirez asked the board to reconsider its decision. She added her son was recently asked his immigration status by someone in Plainfield but that the person said it “didn’t matter because the president was going to get rid of him” just because of his skin color.
“These are just some of the issues I’m hoping we can overcome,” Ramirez said. “This is not the [village] I moved to.”
Ramirez said she uses Route 126 every day and said it is busy, but not as busy as some claim.
Zaki Basalath, who applied on behalf of IFSWS, said the group is holding a open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Mary Immaculate Parish in Plainfield on Route 59. All village residents and staff are invited.