The Sterling Heights planning commission voted down 9-0 a proposed mosque.
City hall was filled to capacity with 240 people waiting to hear the outcome. Hundreds more waited outside chanting "No more mosque" and "God Bless America."
The fight was over the size and scope of the 20,500 square foot building in a residential area.
Those against the mosque say it would cause too much traffic and congestion. A small group hinted at linking the house of worship to extremism.
Mosque leaders say they offered to revise and downsize the plan, changing the dome and towers, but that didn't work.
Some told us, "This doesn't seem like Sterling Heights. I feel like I'm in Baghdad."
Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor issued this statement.
Sterling Heights is a community that has and continues to welcome diversity through many programs and events. For many years, our city has been known in Metro Detroit as a premier community—in large part because of its diverse population representing a wide variety of cultures, ethnicities and race. One of Sterling Heights' most well-attended annual events is the ever-popular Cultural Exchange, wherein thousands of residents gather to celebrate and share their heritage with one another through food, dancing, art displays and other activities.
The recent application for the special approval land use to construct a mosque was considered by the City's Planning Commission based on objective land use criteria and not emotional feelings tied to religious beliefs either for or against the applicant. Sterling Heights has a solid reputation for inclusiveness and tolerance reflected in a wide variety of places of worship across the City, including a Sikh Temple, a Buddhist Temple and two existing Mosques.
Sterling Heights will continue to foster faith-based inclusiveness and understanding with local partners including our city's school districts, religious organizations and other community groups. We will also continue to work with with Welcoming Michigan, an organization representing new refugees and immigrants who have chosen Sterling Heights as their new home.
As stated in the City's 2030 Vision Statement; Sterling Heights is a vibrant, inclusive community for residents and businesses that is safe, active, progressive and distinctive. Inclusiveness will continue to be a guiding principle in all that we do.