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Morada Area Association, mosque reach settlement

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Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009 12:00 am

A legal settlement has been reached to allow a Muslim mosque to be built on the eastern Highway 99 frontage road in Morada.

The settlement between the Morada Area Association, mosque developer Masjid Umar Farooq and San Joaquin County was filed Wednesday in San Joaquin County Superior Court, according to Bill Yeates, a Sacramento attorney representing the Morada group.

The Morada Area Association, a private organization of Morada residents and property owners, sued the county in May, alleging that the Board of Supervisors violated the California Environmental Quality Act by not studying the effects the mosque would have on groundwater supply, traffic, fire safety, noise, soils and parking surrounding the mosque.

"The concern by my clients was that there would be lot more use than mosque said there would be," Yeates said.

A guarantee in the settlement that a kitchen wouldn't be constructed at the mosque means that less water will be used, Yeates said.

But Stockton attorney Howard Seligman, representing the mosque developer, said that the settlement contains basically the same terms that the Board of Supervisors mandated when they reviewed the project.

The Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 on April 14 to deny the Morada Area Association's appeal of the Planning Commission's previous approval. Supervisor Ken Vogel, who represents Morada, cast the lone dissenting vote.

The settlement doesn't call for any money to change hands.

"The MAA's concern was that such a huge institution was going to be built smack dab in the middle of Morada," said Richard Shaffer, president of the Morada Area Association.

The mosque will be built on the eastern frontage road, 150 feet north of Shippee Lane. It will include a multipurpose building, a smaller multipurpose hall, office, prayer hall and a classroom. Farooq still needs to submit development plans to the county and acquire permits, Seligman said.

No more than 282 people will be allowed at the mosque at any one time unless the mosque acquires a special event permit from the county, according to the settlement.

Shaffer disagrees with Seligman about Morada not receiving concessions in the settlement. Shaffer described the county's original conditions of approval as "very sparse."

Shaffer said that the Board of Supervisors, when approving the project in April, didn't address lighting issues, building codes or having parking lots accessible to emergency vehicles.

Seligman credited Yeates for his help in getting the lawsuit resolved.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

Settlement highlights

— Fire code compliance will not compromise parking requirements. The developer will redesign the mosque to comply with parking requirements and other conditions by the county.
— Lighting on the property won't affect neighboring homes. The mosque will have high-pressure sodium vapor lights with 90-degree cutoffs to reduce lighting on adjacent lots.
— Outdoor speakers and sound systems will not be permitted.
— The mosque will not include a morgue. Deceased persons cannot be stored there "for any period of time."
— To alleviate traffic issues, the mosque will have a separate "entrance only" and "exit only" accesses into the parking lot.
Source: Settlement agreement

View 8606 N State Route 99 E Fron Rd Hwy in a larger map

Madina Center at a glance

Location: 8606 N. Highway 99 (east frontage road), 150 feet north of Shippee Lane, Morada.
Owner: Masjid Umar Farooq.
Engineer: Amin Mahmood.
Acres: 2.
Buildings: 13,820-square-foot multipurpose building, 2,800-square-foot multipurpose hall, 4,120-square-foot office, 4,000-square-foot prayer hall and a 2,900-square-foot classroom.
Uses: Prayer hall, classroom, multipurpose hall, office.
Source: San Joaquin County

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