An eruption of hugs and tears met the Brookfield Plan Commission's unanimous approval of a new mosque on Pheasant Drive. Monday night, well over 100 people, residents and non-residents alike, came to the public hearing, mostly to show their support for the project which would bring a 13,000 square foot house of worship to Brookfield, the first of its kind.
Of the more than 80 people who spoke at the meeting, less than 10 offered any kind of opposition to the project, a stark contrast from a town hall-style meeting two weeks ago when arguments erupted over controversial issues surrounding the Muslim faith.
No such issues came up at this meeting, even among opponents, as the discourse was narrowed only to include building, traffic, and other code-related concerns.
"The issue tonight is a building, not a religion. It's a building," insisted Mayor Steven Ponto.
"If you want to talk about religion or you want to talk about the Brewers, please go outside of City Hall and do that."
Mostly concerns were over traffic patterns off Calhoun Road, particularly if the number of worshippers increased significantly over time. Mushir Hassan, a Brookfield resident who has spearheaded this effort, says there are accommodations that can be made for traffic, but that the expectation is 60-75 congregants initially.
Currently, Muslims on the west side of town worship at a space in Waukesha Memorial Hospital. Some, Hassan says, will continue to worship there, which should keep numbers in Brookfield down.
The current Mosque most Brookfield residents use is on 13th Street and Layton, at least a 30 minute drive from Brookfield.
One member of the audience reminded those in attendance that St. John Vianney sometimes has more than 1,000 congregants leaving the church at once with no major traffic delays.
City officials say that if the conditions of the permit to run the mosque aren't met, the city does have recourse to force cooperation from the congregation to keep their traffic down. Conditions of the use permit could also be changed.
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