A proposed Islamic center in a Kansas City suburb that could serve as a centralized location for Muslims on both sides of the state line has gained approval from planning commissioners.
The Overland Park Planning Commission on Monday granted preliminary approval to the Islamic Center of Kansas for its plan to build a roughly 111,000-square-foot (10,300-square-meter) multi-use religious facility, the Kansas City Star reported. The move came after hundreds of residents petitioned for the proposal to be delayed or dismissed.
The center's plans include a mosque, a K-8 school, a day care center and a banquet hall. The school would accommodate 270 students, while the day care could take in 110 children.
Neighbors are arguing that the size and scope of the Islamic center make it a bad fit for the area. Many expressed concerns about noise, traffic and the impact on wildlife and the area's green space.
Residents have two weeks to file a protest petition.
Overland Park approved the site in 2007 for a proposed church, which was never built.
The Islamic Center's attorney, John Petersen, said the project, in collaboration with the Muslim American Society-Kansas City, follows the code requirements previously approved for the church, including being subject to noise ordinances.
Attorney Doug Patterson, who spoke on behalf of about 50 residents Monday, questioned whether the proposed Islamic center is a "true place of worship" or a commercial endeavor. Patterson said that several residents wouldn't have an issue if the space "was just a mosque."
Residents said they're worried about increased traffic diverting drivers to side streets or wearing out roadways, as well as noise on the weekends from the banquet hall.
"I wouldn't mind the mosque," said Wilderness resident Amy Korf. "I just believe as homeowners we deserve a good night's sleep."