Islaamic Center moving on William Floyd Parkway

Requests made for relaxed sign and yard requirements


Brookhaven Town held a public hearing on Feb. 21 for approval of area and sign variances for the proposed 13,118-square-foot Islaamic Center as a place of worship, to be located at Tudor Road and William Floyd Parkway in Shirley.

The proposed site is currently vacant and located in A-1 Residence zoning; according to the town code, places of worship are permitted in the A-1 district. The existing mosque has been located in a house structure located at 503 William Floyd Parkway, in Shirley, since 2002.

Islaamic Center of Mastic-Shirley board member Mehdad Islam addressed the zoning board during the meeting, requesting approval and noting the center has outgrown their current location.

“It is with great enthusiasm and hope we present this proposal for you to consider. Our community has been an integral part of Shirley for many years and continues contribute to the diverse culture, social fabric, and economic growth,” he said. “As our population grows, so, too, has our need for a [larger] dedicated space to gather for worship, religious education, and social activities.”

The applicant requested relief for the proposed house of worship for a rear yard variance (60 feet is required and 25 feet was proposed) and a height variance for the proposed 6-foot-high fence located in the front yard on Tudor Road.

According to Board of Zoning Appeals planner Christopher Wrede, in the staff report, with regard to the relief for rear yard and fencing, it is noted that the parcel has two front yards, both at Tudor Road and William Floyd Parkway, with the latter being the primary front yard.

“From an aesthetic perspective, entrances are provided on both the north and south elevations, and this would appear to be a side yard, meeting the 25-foot requirement,” the zoning board report reads. “In order to help screen the place of worship, the board may find a 6-foot fence in the front yard to be appropriate for the benefit of the homeowners of Heston Road.”

As for the ground sign setback, the board said, due to the width of the landscaped median in the front yard, there is no feasible alternative other than the requested relief.

“However, with a potential 10-foot setback, and no grades or bends with the County Road at the location of the proposed place of worship, a conforming 9-foot-high ground sign is expected to reasonably communicate the place of worship,” the report reads. “It is also noted that the wall sign is 10 square feet over code requirement, with staff opining to not be a substantial request on a building size of 13,118 square feet.”

The variance for the 15-foot sign proposal was removed, claiming a 9-foot sign would be sufficient; however, the location of the sign was maintained.

As for the zoning board’s decision, supervisor Daniel J. Panico said he feels they made the right decision as the monument “is keeping with the feel of the neighborhood.”

During the meeting, the applicant’s attorney, Larry Davis, also presented letters in support of the project, including neighbors of the property as well as from the Mastic-Shirley Chamber of Commerce and St. Joseph’s University. Also, about 10 residents came in support of the application.

However, five residents of the neighboring Heston Road spoke in opposition during the meeting. The first speakers, Kevin and Susan Fox of Heston Road in Shirley, said the size of the property “just can’t hold the size of the building being proposed.”

Susan also noted that she was concerned about the setback request being how close the building would be to the back of the neighboring home’s fences.

Chairman of the zoning board, Howard Bergson, said the plan is to include proper fencing as well as plantings, but, he said, the applicant would be happy to continue to conversations.

Kevin also brought up possible parking issues, stating Tudor Road is not the proper place to put parking. However, according to the board, parking is not part of the zoning board hearing.

Mastic resident Beth Wahl said she was upset after receiving a letter in the mail, last month, from a community group sending out plans from the mosque requesting community support in opposing the place of worship.

“I don’t think they would react this way if it were a Catholic church or Baptist church. I think it is just outrageous; they are entitled to have a place to worship,” she said, also noting that the applicant presented before the Mastic-Shirley Chamber a few years ago. “They were the loveliest people.”

“This is just bigotry,” she said of some of the community opposition. “It’s really a shame.”

She also noted the applicant’s plans to install a basketball court at the establishment, where the entire community would be welcomed to use it.

“We envision this as a hub for community engagement, where people of all backgrounds come to gather, to learn, connect, and support each other,” Islam said, also confirming plans to include a basketball court for use by the entire community.

During the meeting, the imam of the mosque said he believes the concerns will continue after the meeting, but he would like for the mosque not to just serve people to worship, but as a community center as well.

After the meeting, the public hearing was closed and the requests for relief were held. In addition to the relief before the Board of Zoning Appeals, a site-plan approval is also required by the planning board.


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