Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Western Ky. zoning board approves permit for Muslim worship center

In September, we reported that an open records request from the Courier-Journal showed a Mayfield, Ky., zoning board had been pressured into rejecting a permit to open a mosque. On Tuesday, the Mayfield Board of Zoning Adjustments unanimously approved a conditional use permit for the downtown building to be used as a place of worship, Shelley Byrne of The Paducah Sun reports. At the hearing, Heather Weaver, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, explained that federal statutes protect buildings that are used for religious purposes, adding that federal statutes superseded any city ordinances.

"Board member Don Costello made the motion to approve the permit, saying the federal Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 seemed to require it and noting that a city ordinance did not require downtown businesses to have a specific number of parking spaces available," Byrne writes. No one spoke at the Tuesday hearing against using the building for prayers. The city had expressed concerns about parking at the building, but Weaver noted the group had met in the building for awhile before learning they needed a permit. (Read more, subscription required)

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