On Thursday an attorney for the Michigan Chapter of CAIR, (Council on American-Islamic Relations), filed a lawsuit against the city of Troy stating they are illegally blocking the Adam Community Center from building a Mosque within city limits.
“It’s imperative to have a place of worship inside the city of Troy for its members to pray at,” said Amy Doukoure, an attorney for CAIR.
Doukoure says the the Adam Community Center nonprofit organization has been trying to find a place to build a mosque in Troy since 2013.
“They’ve been meet with nothing but roadblocks regarding the ability to open up a place of worship for Muslims,” Doukoure said.
The Adam Community Center currently owns property at 3565 Rochester Road in Troy. In June, the group asked Troy’s zoning appeals board to give them permission to turn it into a mosque, but were denied.
Doukoure says zoning laws in Troy are partially to blame. In Troy, places of worship are required by law to have a 50-foot set back from parking. Other commercial buildings, like the restaurant currently occupying the building, do not have to have a 50-foot set back.
“My record shows that I do not put a big box... a big... project on a parcel that doesn’t fit for it," said Glenn Clark, chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, during the June meeting. "Because to be good neighbors, you have to make it fit for everybody.”
“This constitutes a harsher restriction on places of worship than it does on commercial businesses, which is an express violation on the RLUIPA law,” Doukoure said.
According to the Department of Justice, the RLUIPA Law, or the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, protects individuals, houses of worship, and other religious institutions from discrimination in zoning and land marking laws.
An attorney representing the city of Troy sent 7 Action News the following statement:
“The City will aggressively defend this lawsuit. The City articulated several reasons for its denial of Adam’s multiple and significant variance requests for a retrofit of an existing building on Rochester Road that abuts residential properties. Adam could not have located their proposed community center without obtaining a number of variances, including but not limited to parking and set back variances from residentially zoned properties. Some of these requested variances were significant. Through the variance process, Adam was required to demonstrate that they could not develop the property in accordance with Troy’s zoning ordinances because of hardships that related to the land itself.”