It's getting worse...

 

Residents thought they had achieved compromise when Bloomfield Township, in April, 2016, granted the Muslim Unity Center their request to add 94 more parking spaces. The compromise between the residents who are overwhelmed with traffic from the center (which operates nearly around the the clock), and the Muslim Unity Center, stipulated there be no further expansion beyond the parking lot additions. The MUC refused the compromise.

 

To add insult to residents, in a move that appears to skirt the compromise's limits on the expansion, Leo Savoie has allowed the use of a residential lot as a parking lot.  The use of the residential lot, which comes within feet of residents' homes, has deterred members of the MUC from using the shuttle services and has worsened the pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods, which can be heard until as late as 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning. Why is Leo Savoie exacerbating an intolerable situation by allowing the use of a residential lot as a parking lot? Is it so the MUC can add over 120 more vehicles without being hampered by the compromise which would have prevented the MUC's proposed 81% expansion?

A History of How the Muslim Unity Center Misled Residents in Bloomfield Township...

...and transformed a peaceful neighborhood into a noisy, high-traffic area operating similarly to a commercial enterprise.

 The Muslim Unity Center is requesting to add an additional 94 parking spaces. Additional parking spaces will not resolve this traffic problem and the Unity Center's desire to continue to expand.

The Muslim Unity Center's continual drive for new members guarantees that the traffic in the residential neighborhood will only continue to worsen.

This video is what residents endure NIGHTLY, for 30 days from Mid-June to Mid-July. Hundreds of cars arrive at the mosque, beginning at 10:45 pm, 7 days a week. Horns, traffic lights, police whistles, congestion, in a neighborhood zoned residential. It starts back up again when services end at around 1 am. And now the Muslim Unity Center wants to ADD an additional 94 spaces. Residents have had enough. Ninety-four new spaces will not improve the situation.

After being granted additional parking spaces, the MUC responds with new membership drive.

As neighbors of the Unity Center have known, the MUC's continuous requests for expansion are about increasing memberships at the mosque while compounding the burden of noise, traffic and congestion in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

Muslim Unity Center
Traffic Havoc

Just 2 short months ago, the Muslim Unity Center didn't have enough spaces for all their members...apparently, this doesn't stop them from

running a membership drive. They show little to no regard to what the neighborhoods must withstand.  

On April 11, 2016, Attorney Rick Rattner, representing the Muslim Unity Center, stood before the neighbors of the Unity Center & the Bloomfield Township Board of Trustees to state that granting the Unity Center 94 more spaces would alleviate the congestion and cars parked in our residential neighborhoods. Mr. Rattner indicated that this request for additional parking by the MUC was because the MUC was "trying to benefit the neighborhood"—many of which are inundated with the traffic from a mosque that, from our perspective has grown too big for the neighborhood.

 

With Leo Savioe's and Board of Trustees support, The Unity Center is granted 94 additional spaces. Now, less than 2 months later, despite the mosque's pleas  that there is insufficient parking for current members, the MUC is conducting a MEMBERSHIP DRIVE.

 

The MUC will continue their drive to expand their memberships.  For the neighborhoods, this means more banquet traffic for the 750 person banquet hall--often operating until well past midnight. More members for fitness classes. More members for summer camps. More members for the classes which run nightly until well past 11 pm. This means more shuttle buses driving members through our at-one-time quiet neighborhoods until well past midnight.

 

Where will these new members be parking? Most likely, in our residential neighborhoods.

Is this the benefit that Attorney Rick Rattner was referring to?

 

Once again, the Muslim Unity Center misleads us, the neighbors of Bloomfield Township.

The History: Bloomfield Township Grants a Special Land Use to Muslim Unity Center With Special Conditions

In 1993, Bloomfield Township granted a Special Land Use to allow the Muslim Unity Center to offer religious services at the former Irving Elementary School @ 1830 West Square Lake in Bloomfield Township.

 

A Special Land Use is an agreement between a municipality and property owner to allow spot zoning, i.e. to allow a use that is contrary to the underlying master plan zoning.

 

In this instance, the Special Land Use that was granted to the Muslim Unity Center to operate in a residential zone and specifically provided that there would be:

 

 

 

 

• Maximum occupancy of 300 people and 100 cars.

• No expansion of the building

• No profit making activities such as receptions, pre-school and daycare.

• Daycare just during services and not full time.

• No variances requested.

There was a great deal of concern on the part of the residents of Square Lake, Upper Long Lake, Hammond Lake and the Meadowlands that this use would change the character of the neighborhood.  Assurances were made to residents by the previous Board of Trustees that the Special Land Use would control future activity to maintain the quaint neighborhood tucked in the northwest corner of Bloomfield Township.

 

See the Special Land Use Conditions here.  See letter to the Township Supervisor from the Muslim Unity Center promising that the sole purpose of the Center was a house of worship and WOULD NOT INCLUDE expansion, daycare, or a banquet center here.

The proposed uses were intended to result in a peak maximum of 300 persons on Friday.

Broken Promises: Muslim Unity Center ignores Terms of Special Land Use and expands uses into a Commercial Enterprise with no oversight from the Township.

For 30 days, From Mid-June to Mid-July, banquet facilities operated well past 1:00 a.m. on most nights with Bloomfield Township Police stationing one and sometimes two police cars on site directing traffic. Residents are subject to police car strobe lights for 2-3 hours every night starting at 10pm. The traffic does not let up until after 1am, after the meals in the Banquet Hall are over. Due to the noise generated by vehicle and pedestrian traffic, police lights, residents are forced to close windows.

 As a result of Bloomfield Township's "past" failure to enforce the Special Land Use Conditions applied to the property, which is zoned R-1 and surrounded by homes, the Muslim Unity Center has turned into a profit making Commercial enterprise in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

• The MUC hosts services seven days a week (as early as 4:30 a.m. to past midnight);

• Hosts an Islamic Academy, a Montessori School, and now one of the larger (pay for services) Daycare facilities in the Township
   with a recent unapproved increase in capacity to 76 (infants to 12 years old).
• Advertised on their website is a banquet facility for public use with seating for 750.

• A fitness center with classes in the evening. Center advertised paid monthly memberships with a professional fitness trainer.
• And as stated in Township Meetings, operating an unapproved restaurant open to the public. All of these services  
   carry fees not taxed.

The Center today is three (3) times the size of what was initially approved and has outgrown the parcel with its concurrent commercial uses. 
It's time for the trustees to say no. There should be clear reinforcement of no further expansions of the building, use and parking lots.

Another Violation of Agreement? Muslim Unity Center requests huge two-phase expansion plan.

The Muslim Unity Center's plan to grow the commercial uses will never end until the Township enforces the Special Land Use Conditions. During the Planning Commission Meeting on 5/5/14, a two phase plan was presented by the Mosque. Phase 1 was parking expansion while Phase 2 was an enormous 81% expansion of the building, adding over 21,000 square feet, which includes:

The Muslim Unity Center stated the maximum proposed capacity was 498. This

was far from the truth as the Occupancy Load Chart they submitted to the Township Building Dept. reflects close to 2,000 occupants!

Since the beginning, Residents have been continually misled by the Muslim Unity Center.  When presenting the first Building Expansion (even though a condition was no expansions) to the Planning Commission on 1/3/2000, there was literally no discussion about the large banquet facility in the basement and again they stated, “the maximum that would be expected for any gathering is 300 people.” Resident’s concerns were ignored.

 

 

In 2007, the Muslim Unity Center requested to add 78 additional parking spaces for a total of 178. The Homeowners Association was told this would be the “last” parking expansion necessary. The Muslim Unity Center then proceeded to add just not 78, but  100 more spaces for a total of 200 that exists today. They never completed the proposed Landscaping, and the MUC spent the next year, in and out of the Design Review Board to correct numerous issues. The complete history shows how the MUC continually misled the residents and the Township.  The latest request again violates the Special Land Use Agreement. The MUC is now asking the Bloomfield Township Trustees to approve a 47% increase in parking, adding 94 additional spaces to the existing 200, for a total of 294, right in the middle of three residential subdivisions.

 

Based upon the MUC’s own occupancy submission,  the existing 200 spaces should accommodate the maximum worship capacity (which is 285 occupants). The multiple concurrent uses on top of Worship, such as the Public restaurant, banquet facility, daycare, camps and numerous social events during the week & Holidays are driving this parking request.

 

To gain support of this most recent Phase I - Parking Expansion, the MUC sent to both the Planning Commission and Township Supervisor letters stating,” they would stop the plan to expand the building.”  The Chairman of the Unity Center Board then stood up in the Planning Commission Meeting and stated, “that the Center had no plans for further expansion.”  These are shallow promises that the MUC has refused to legally agree to.

In 2007, the MUC requested 78 additional parking spaces be added to the Center nestled in a residential neighborhood. They assured the Homeowner Associations that this was the "last" parking expansion necessary. It wasn't. Residents have lost all ability to trust any promises the Muslim Unity Center makes.

• A second banquet hall

• A second larger gymnasium

• Classrooms with a capacity of 410 people

• Another kitchen on the second floor

• Another exercise room in the basement

• Reorienting the Worship Area

 

 

All the residents are seeking is for the Bloomfield Township Trustees to uphold it's fiduciary responsibility and do what they initially agreed to do when the Special Land Use conditions were put in place and agreed upon. That is, to reinforce with a legally binding agreement, the Original Agreement of no future expansions building & parking. This is the only way this will be resolved as past conditions placed by the Township have proven meaningless. 

The Muslim Unity Center has outgrown the parcel with its quasi-commercial activities.

 

Residential lots are not to be used for parking under any circumstance. Notice the proximity of residential homes just yards from the parking lot.

 

Pine Lake Elementary

Hickory Grove

Lahser High School

Currently there are three schools in Bloomfield Township that are underutilized and may be sold by the school system.  The soon-to-be former Lahser High School on Lahser; the Pine Lake Middle School on Long Lake and the Hickory Grove Middle School on Lahser are all candidates for another use. Any changes in use by a developer putting in condominiums, cluster homes, a private school or a religious organization, would most likely require the granting of "Special Land Use conditions" similar to what was granted in 1993 that allowed for the creation of the Muslim Unity Center and has been continually violated by the MUC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original agreement with the Muslim Unity Center, was crafted out of residents’ concerns that the Center would become an area of activity in the middle of a R-1 residential neighborhood. We relied on the past Board of Trustees to enforce the Special Land Use Conditions with the Muslim Unity Center.  The past previous  Board of Trustees failed to discharge its responsibilities and without public input, allowed the MUC in 2000 to expand the building square footage without notification to nearby residents.  In 2007, parking was expanded from 100 to it's current 200 spaces with the Square Lake Neighborhood Association misled and told by the MUC that there would be no further parking additions. In 2010, parking lot lighting was added and to illuminate the building and now in in 2014,  a variance was granted by the ZBA to increase the parking lot from 200 to 304 (a 52% increase) and more than their own study says was needed to provide a parking "cushion."

 

It is not difficult to imagine the real effect nonresidential (commercial) uses in a residential neighborhood can have on your diminished right to peaceful enjoyment all while experiencing a precipitous decline in your home’s property value.

 

Despite overwhelming disapproval by the surrounding residents, the past Board of Trustees demonstrated a callous disregard for it's fiduciary responsibilities and speaks volumes on the overall disconnect they had with the Township residents.  Will the current Board and Leadership recognize that adding more parking simply paves the way for more traffic and further expansions and that the Muslim Unity Center through the multiple uses has outgrown the site?

Is Your Neighborhood Next?

• What will you do when the empty school or vacant lot near your home
becomes a round-the-clock center for activity transforming your once
quaint neighborhood into a busy hub, just as residents of Square Lake have experienced?

 

 

• And Bloomfield Township refuses to enforce the terms and conditions
of the Special Land Use Permit?

Residents whose only goal was to maintain the tranquility of their quiet neighborhood have been continually mislead by the Muslim Unity Center. The Township of Bloomfield has not enforced the Special Land Use Conditions.

A neighbor grows too big for the neighborhood.

The promise of those who established the Muslim Unity Center was a written agreement made to concerned neighbors who feared that the Center would generate traffic and congestion unsuited for a densely residential area. As reflected here, in the original formal agreement, the founder reassured residents that the Center would offer limited services on Friday afternoons and an occasional Sunday.

 

In direct conflict with this agreement, the Muslim Unity Center is now a busy mosque, with services that begin as early as 4 a.m. and as late as midnight, seven days a week. Throughout the week, the Muslim Unity Center offers exercise classes, pre-school, summer camps, and numerous other services which result in hazardous traffic conditions, noise and light pollution in a neighborhood zoned residential. All of this activity, in direct violation of the township's agreement with residents.

 

The mosque has "outgrown" the once-quiet residential neighborhood. How much growth will the township continue to greenlight? Residents have been enduring unprecedented traffic and noise more suited to a commercially zoned thoroughfare such as Telegraph or Woodward as a result of the increasing mosque traffic.  When does it stop?

Pre-dawn and late night services occur daily. (Schedule from Center's

website.)

The Litigation: Bloomfield Township Residents vs. MUC and the Zoning Board of Appeals

Does Bloomfield Township care about the tax paying homeowners?  We will see. Will the trustees step up and enforce the Special Land Use Agreement?
The Planning Commission and Zoning Boards were asked to simply address the conditions tied to the property.  Both Planning Commission and Zoning Board refused to allow ANY DISCUSSION of those Special Conditions.

 

In attendance at the Township Meetings were hundreds of residents who live in the four Association neighborhoods that surround the MUC.  The fact is that the

MUC had requested more parking spaces than their own parking study and Township’s traffic consultant indicated were needed (250 needed vs. 294 requested),

so essentially parking was to accommodate the multiple concurrent non-worship uses setting the stage for future expansions.  The problem was self-created by

the multiple uses.  Any reasonable person understands more parking equals more attendees, cramming more vehicles into a totally residential neighborhood NOT
A MIXED USE COMMERCIAL AREA as the MUC recently incorrectly showed the property to be on their expansion plans.

 

The approval of multiple variances by the Zoning Board of Appeals (with the condition that “no variances would be requested”) and adding more parking spaces than what the MUC’s own parking study indicated were needed at peak, along with blocking a road (with a retaining wall and trees), needed by a resident to access their property, left the neighbors little choice but to seek redress in the courts.  To add insult to injury the Township spent your tax dollars to fight its own residents.

The Road Commission advised the MUC, they would not approve the plan (that the Zoning Board of Appeals approved) that blocked access to property. 
The Muslim Unity Center modified its plan, unblocking the road, to gain acceptance of the variance by the courts.  The courts only affirmed the variance.

 

 

Will the current Board of Trustee’s finally do what is right representing the homeowners insuring this is solved once and for all by reaffirming the condition of no  future expansions of the building , uses and parking?

UNITY TRAFFIC HAVOC 2017

 

Bloomfield Township Police Officer: "This is the worst it's ever been."