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Mosque Hearing Continues With More Parking Questions

Audrey Blumberg

Sunday, August 24, 2014 • 1:15pm

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The hearing for a mosque on the former Redwood Inn property continues Monday evening with additional testimony from the expert discussing the parking lot.

The hearing will continue during Monday's planning board meeting at 7 p.m. in the municipal building courtroom on Commons Way.

The Al Falah Center put in an application for a mosque on the former site on Mountain Top Road. The planning board has been holding hearings since January, with testimony from applicant experts.

The planning board was ordered by the courts to hear the application while litigation continues concerning a lawsuit filed by the Al Falah Center in 2011 after the township approved an ordinance prohibiting houses of worship from residential areas, including Mountain Top Road. That ordinance, which was approved after the application had already been filed, would have required the application to be moved to the zoning board.

While the lawsuit continues through the courts, the planning board has been required by a judge to hear the application.

Testimony at the July 28 meeting focused on the number of parking spaces on the property, as determined by engineer Henry Ney.

According to Ney, the applicant is proposing 170 parking spaces at the mosque, 16 more than the required 154 for the number of people the building can accommodate. Ney said at the last meeting that he did his calculations for parking based on the number of prayer mats estimated in the building, since the mosque does not have seats.

But residents and planning board members questioned how the calculations can be done without an estimation of the expected attendance at the facility. Others said they were concerned that the study was not done during holidays, when there would presumably be more people at the facility.

Ney will return to answer more questions at the planning board meeting, as testimony continues.

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