Thursday, February 11, 2016

City Sues Mosque Over Renovation and Expansion Plans

AP reports that the city of Lexington, Nebraska has sued a mosque to keep it from renovating and expanding its downtown property.  The Islamic Center of Dawson County wants to renovate two buildings it has occupied since 2008 and renovate an adjacent former laundromat building that it has acquired.  The city says the Islamic Center has never obtained an occupancy permit, and that it needs a conditional use permit to use the former laundromat building for religious purposes.  In December, City Council voted to deny the permit over concerns about parking and downtown redevelopment plans.  The city's lawsuit seeks penalties of $600 per day for building code and zoning violations, and asks for a temporary injunction against expansion into the laundromat building. The city is urging the Islamic Center to look for property in residential areas, but the mosque says those areas are far from where its members-- mostly Somalian and other African immigrants-- live.