Decision to build controversial mosque in Carmel delayed

CARMEL, Ind. – City officials delayed the decision on allowing a new Islamic Life Center to be built in Carmel.

The proposed mosque would sit at the corner of 141st and Shelbourne Road in northern Carmel. The plan is getting a lot of pushback.

“I should think that they can find a place that’s more fitting,” said Paul Cluxton, a concerned homeowner.

This is such a controversial issue the zoning meeting was moved to the Monon Center, which still wasn’t a big enough venue. It was standing room only and more than 100 people were waiting in line outside.

The 5-acre piece of land is surrounded by homes. Renderings show the proposed Islamic Life Center, which would hold a congregation of up to 300 members and 100 parking spots. The mosque would be the first of its kind in Carmel.

“As the community is growing we found there is a need for a place of worship in this area. (It’s) almost a 30-minute drive one way to a place where people of my faith can go and worship,” said Nadeem Ikhlaque, President of the Al Salam Foundation.

The plan needs special use approval from the zoning board. Neighbors voiced concerns over the size of the center, noise and traffic.

“We have many commercial places out there to build this type of facility. Not next door to my house or the other people’s homes here. We’ve spent a lot of money. My property value is in great jeopardy,” said David Bidgood, a concerned homeowner.

Jerry Zehr is the president of the Carmel Interfaith Alliance. Zehr tells FOX59 the only traffic will be during worship times on Friday afternoons from 1-2:30. Zehr views the mosque as an opportunity for the city.

“Faith communities are anchors in our neighborhoods and I think it’s a wonderful thing,” said Jerry Zehr, president, Carmel Interfaith Alliance.

Due to the overwhelming amount of community concern, public comment will be heard at the zoning board’s next regularly scheduled meeting on February 26 at 6 p.m. The location of the meeting has not yet been announced.