Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement
Willmar Planning Commission member Scott Thaden, left, reviews documents Wednesday evening during the regular commission meeting at the city office building as Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services, discusses the conditional use permit approved last month for the Islamic Society of Willmar. City staff members prepared the required findings of fact after the public hearing, and the commission members reviewed those findings Wednesday and made no changes. The permit approved by the ...

Willmar, Minn., mosque permit approval forwarded for action Monday by City Council

Email

WILLMAR -- Willmar Planning Commission members have reviewed and made no changes to their previously approved findings of fact required to support a conditional use permit for a proposed Islamic mosque on the city's north side.

Advertisement

The commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit and seven findings of fact after receiving comments from neighboring property owners during a public hearing March 28.

The commission met Wednesday night and approved the minutes of last month's hearing, which include the findings of fact. The commission's minutes will be part of the consent agenda, which the City Council will consider, along with other action items, at the upcoming Monday night meeting.

No one from the public attended the commission meeting regarding the findings of fact.

Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services, said he asked the city attorneys to review the findings to be sure they sufficiently document and support the commission's action to approve the permit.

In an earlier interview, Peterson said that whenever there are issues that generate a lot of public interest, the Planning Commission wants to make sure that their decisions are well-documented and well-justified.

In the case of a conditional use permit, by law the commission must prepare findings of fact so that their decision is demonstrated to have been based on fact.

"In this particular case, staff prepared the findings of fact following the last commission meeting and (the findings) were sent to the new city attorneys for their review and blessing,'' he said.

"This is a wise process to use any time there is a contentious land use issue that may attract litigation,'' Peterson said.

"Even though the commission voted unanimously to approve it, based on the findings of fact that had been generated at the meeting, we wanted to make sure that this new city attorney agreed with them and that the commission would still have the opportunity to adjust their findings of fact if necessary prior to sending them to the council,'' he said.

The permit was requested by the Islamic Society of Willmar to operate an Islamic mosque, religious education, adult education and limited child care at 1112 Lake Ave. N.W., formerly the Lafayette Elementary School and First Step Inc. daycare.

The property is now owned by Wells Fargo, and the Islamic Society intends to buy the school and property contingent upon approval of the conditional use permit.

The property is zoned R-2 for single-family and duplex housing and places of worship are allowed in the residential district with a conditional use permit, according to the zoning ordinance.

An issue raised by the public during the hearing was a concern about traffic and parking on city streets if a large number of people attend an event at the mosque. The applicant did not submit a parking layout plan at the hearing.

However, city staff said the existing parking lot and paved playground can both be used for off-street parking. Also, there is ample off-street parking because the property encompasses an entire city block.

The permit was approved with the following conditions:

n A parking lot layout plan shall be submitted for city engineer's review and approval.

n There shall be no amplified or loud music after 9 p.m.

n The use shall meet all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations.

WILLMAR -- Willmar Planning Commission members have reviewed and made no changes to their previously approved findings of fact required to support a conditional use permit for a proposed Islamic mosque on the city's north side.

The commission unanimously approved the conditional use permit and seven findings of fact after receiving comments from neighboring property owners during a public hearing March 28.

The commission met Wednesday night and approved the minutes of last month's hearing, which include the findings of fact. The commission's minutes will be part of the consent agenda, which the City Council will consider, along with other action items, at the upcoming Monday night meeting.

No one from the public attended the commission meeting regarding the findings of fact.

Bruce Peterson, director of planning and development services, said he asked the city attorneys to review the findings to be sure they sufficiently document and support the commission's action to approve the permit.

In an earlier interview, Peterson said that whenever there are issues that generate a lot of public interest, the Planning Commission wants to make sure that their decisions are well-documented and well-justified.

In the case of a conditional use permit, by law the commission must prepare findings of fact so that their decision is demonstrated to have been based on fact.

"In this particular case, staff prepared the findings of fact following the last commission meeting and (the findings) were sent to the new city attorneys for their review and blessing,'' he said.

"This is a wise process to use any time there is a contentious land use issue that may attract litigation,'' Peterson said.

"Even though the commission voted unanimously to approve it, based on the findings of fact that had been generated at the meeting, we wanted to make sure that this new city attorney agreed with them and that the commission would still have the opportunity to adjust their findings of fact if necessary prior to sending them to the council,'' he said.

The permit was requested by the Islamic Society of Willmar to operate an Islamic mosque, religious education, adult education and limited child care at 1112 Lake Ave. N.W., formerly the Lafayette Elementary School and First Step Inc. daycare.

The property is now owned by Wells Fargo, and the Islamic Society intends to buy the school and property contingent upon approval of the conditional use permit.

The property is zoned R-2 for single-family and duplex housing and places of worship are allowed in the residential district with a conditional use permit, according to the zoning ordinance.

An issue raised by the public during the hearing was a concern about traffic and parking on city streets if a large number of people attend an event at the mosque. The applicant did not submit a parking layout plan at the hearing.

However, city staff said the existing parking lot and paved playground can both be used for off-street parking. Also, there is ample off-street parking because the property encompasses an entire city block.

The permit was approved with the following conditions:

- A parking lot layout plan shall be submitted for city engineer's review and approval.

- There shall be no amplified or loud music after 9 p.m.

- The use shall meet all applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations.

Advertisement
David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150
Advertisement
Advertisement