Every Friday afternoon, about 60 to 70 Muslims meet for prayer service in Waukesha County. Since 2000, they have met in several places.
Now, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee believes it is time they have a permanent place to worship.
The city of Brookfield Plan Commission on Monday reviewed preliminary plans for a nearly 13,000-square-foot mosque the society would like to build at Pheasant Drive and Calhoun Road.
The panel unanimously agreed to schedule a public hearing on the plans, which would later move to the Common Council for consideration.
The society's primary worship center, the Islamic Center of Milwaukee, at 13th Street and Layton Avenue, has a congregation of more than 1,500 people, and has been serving the local Muslim community for more than 25 years.
The Brookfield location would serve as a more permanent place of worship for the growing population of Muslim families in Waukesha County.
Construction would be phased
The mosque would have a 4,500-square-foot main floor, housing the main prayer area and a small foyer, as well as a 4,050-square-foot mezzanine level and a 4,400-square-foot basement community hall.
Construction would occur in phases, with the groundbreaking anticipated for the second half of 2012. Occupancy is slated for June 2013.
A second phase, in late 2013, would focus on basement finishing, including a community hall, kitchen and restroom.
The congregation ultimately sees itself growing into the facility, explained Mushir Hassan, secretary of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee Executive Board, and foresees the possibility of expanding all levels as a future phase.
"Our hope down the road is, as Calhoun Road expands, we hope to also expand," Hassan said.
Traffic is biggest worry
No expansion of Calhoun Road is planned, however, and due to the location of the 4.25-acre site, at 16650 and 16730 W. Pheasant Drive, traffic-related concerns dominated the commission's discussion Monday.
Situated between two sets of railroad tracks, the site poses a unique traffic dilemma, as those structures prevent the applicant from fully mitigating potential traffic issues during peak times, City Engineer Jeff Chase said.
The addition of a right-turn lane on Pheasant Drive, directing traffic north onto Calhoun Road, is proposed, Chase said.
Peak traffic at the mosque is anticipated from 1 to 2 p.m., when Friday afternoon prayer services would be held. It is likely that the level of service at the intersection of Pheasant Drive and Calhoun Road would diminish slightly during that time, Chase said, even with the addition of a right-turn lane. During other times, though, including the peak travel hour on Calhoun Road, the level of service at the intersection would actually improve.
Alderman Rick Owen, along with other commissioners, stressed the need to ensure that traffic issues are addressed as thoroughly as possible as the project proceeds.
Beyond traffic concerns, Planning Administrator Michael Theis indicated there will need to be further discussion regarding building materials.
Overall, commissioners indicated support for the proposal and the discussion that already has occurred between the city and the Islamic Society of Milwaukee.
"It's really a great thing when you can sit down … and see that people are so willing to work together and compromise and understand each others' issues, and reach a real good decision and good product," Alderman Gary Mahkorn said.
A public hearing before the Plan Commission will be held within the next two months, and will be preceded by a neighborhood meeting, said Dan Ertl, community development director.
During the past 12 years, the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (ISM) West community has met for Friday prayer services at the following locations:
Beginning in 2000 - A meeting room at Elmbrook Hospital
2004-2007 - A rented space on Grandview Boulevard in Waukesha
2008-Present - The Education Center at Waukesha Memorial Hospital
The group purchased the parcel at 16730 W. Pheasant Drive in September 2009, and the adjoining lot in October 2010.
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