Hawzah News Agency (Kansas, US) – A plan for the Islamic Center of Kansas to construct a multi-faceted religious facility for Muslims from both sides of the state line gained preliminary approval from Overland Park planning commissioners Monday.
But its location near West 163rd Terrace and Roe Avenue — between Blue Valley Middle School and the Cottages at the Wilderness subdivision — has galvanized neighbors who say the size and scope of the proposed 110,876-square-foot facility make it a bad fit for the area.
“It was understood to be the kind of religious facility that could find a home within a neighborhood,” said attorney Doug Patterson, who spoke on behalf of roughly 50 residents of the adjacent subdivisions who attended Monday’s meeting.
Though planning commissioners were presented with a petition of 477 people asking for the proposal to be delayed or dismissed, they ultimately unanimously approved sending the plan to the city council for consideration.
The center would include a mosque, a school for 270 students in kindergarten to eighth grade and a day care for 110 children. A second building closer to 163rd Terrace would be used as a private banquet hall.
The proposed center is a joint project of the Islamic Center of Kansas and the Muslim American Society-Kansas City to create a centralized location for Muslims in both Missouri and Kansas.
In 2007, the city had approved the site for the proposed 82,000-square-foot Cambridge Church, which was never built. The Islamic Center’s plans are similar to preliminary plans for the church, which included three buildings with a gym, chapel, offices and dining area.
That the land had already been approved for use by a religious organization was appealing to the Islamic Center, said its attorney, John Peterson.
“This is the textbook location for a faith-based community operation,” said Peterson, who pointed out that the center’s proposal follows code requirements of the previously approved facility and would be subject to noise ordinances.