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Sauk Valley Islamic Center wants to expand

Some neighbors worried about impact on property values

DIXON – The Sauk Valley Islamic Center wants to expand its worship room, its representatives told the Zoning Board of Appeals Thursday afternoon.

The plan would move the east wall of the building at 202 E. Fellows St. to within 3 feet of the lot line, far into the required 30-foot setback, according to documents submitted to the building department.

Regardless of whether board members were willing to recommend the request to the City Council, they had to vote no because the request was beyond its jurisdiction, Chairman Bob Mezo said.

The zoning board can only grant setbacks to 50 percent of the requirement, which, in this case, is 15 feet.

The request now will go before the City Council, which does have the authority to grant the setback.

Some neighbors worry that the encroachment on neighboring lots will decrease property values. Three residents and the owner of a nearby apartment building attended the meeting.

“It’s a residential area. Right now, the structure looks fairly residential,” said Terry Buckaloo, who lives across the street. “I really do think the construction would devalue the surrounding properties, because it would be much more institutional-looking.”

The extension would make the building more symmetrical and make it look more like a temple, said John Jacobs, contractor for the project.

The center has an apartment building on one side and the former Masonic temple, now a house, on the other. There is a church cater-corner. The rest of the buildings on the block are houses.

Before the Islamic center bought the building, it was a day care center, and before that, it was a funeral home, said its attorney, Michael Downey.

It also was run down, said Dr. Adnan Muhsin, a member of the center. The Islamic center’s improvements increased property values in the area, he said.

When asked whether there would be increased parking at the center, Muhsin said their membership hasn’t grown and doesn’t expect to.

Expanding the worship room, which also is used for the occasional banquet or wedding, would give them more space to sit down, he said.

“It would just make it more comfortable for us to eat a meal and sit down with friends and relatives,” Muhsin said.

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