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Posted on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Islamic school rezoning rejected by Pittsfield Township Planning Commission

By Tom Perkins

A split Pittsfield Township Planning Commission rejected a rezoning request by a group hoping to build an Islamic school in the township.

In a 3-2 vote, the board voted to approve a motion to recommend that the Pittsfield Township Board of Trustees reject the zoning request by the Michigan Islamic Academy. The Board of Trustees has final authority and will vote on the issue at an upcoming meeting.

The biggest issue has been traffic concerns, but officials involved with the school say two separate traffic studies have found there would be little impact on traffic.

Commissioners Amy Longcore, Deborah Williams and Michael Yi voted to recommend against rezoning. Commissioners Michael Payne and Ann Harris voted against the recommendation. Commissioners Chris Wall and George Ralph weren’t present.

Harris and Payne both stated that the land will eventually be developed and there will be increased traffic no matter what is built. They said the traffic studies have shown residential development would actually cause more traffic than a school.


Tarek Nahlawi (left) at Thursday night's meeting.

Tom Perkins | For

Payne said he lives near a school and understands the traffic concerns, but said the increase would be minimal. He also pointed out that the planning commission always relied on traffic studies in the past and questioned why it's now disregarding two studies.

“I think the traffic impact of a school will be less than 52 condos or a residential development - it is well-documented,” Payne said.

Williams disagreed, and she and Longcore both suggested the school find a different location that isn’t in a residential zone. They contended that residents in the neighboring Silverleaf subdivision didn’t know a school would be built next door when they purchased their homes, and to allow one would be unfair. “This is their home … and they bought this house thinking it was all residential lands,” Longcore said. “And it isn’t the only piece of land available in the township.”

The commissioners split their vote on the township’s findings along the same lines.

Tarek Nahlawi, an Islamic Academy board member, said he was disappointed with the vote. He said some of the issues commissioners said weren’t addressed - such as lighting, a landscape screen and pedestrian circulation - were brought up in meetings with the planning department and the commissioners had that information. He said the commissioners publicly stating that they didn’t have the information was “a cheap shot.”

About 125 residents attended and about 50 spoke during public comment. Most of those opposed to the plan stressed that they have no issue with the school being Islamic, but said their concerns centered around traffic, children’s safety and the school being inconsistent with the master plan.

Phil Stevens is a Silverleaf subdivision resident who said his property backs up to school’s property. He said the nearby Fortis school was also supposed to be a small school when it was built and it now has 750 students, which causes traffic issues in the area.

Plans call for a school that accommodates 360 kids, but he feared that the Islamic Academy and a possible community center could potentially bring several thousand people to the area.

Stevens said such a scenario would be “an absolute nightmare.”

“Nobody knows what things will be like 10 years from now,” he said. “The school could end up having 1,000 children, the community center could have 1,000 people.

“I don’t want to wake up 5-10 years and deal with thousands of people coming and going.”

Nahlawi clarified that the community center is no longer part of the plans. He said the school's capacity will be 360 and 1,000 kids is “an amount we do not see reaching in the near future.” He also underscored that traffic studies indicated there wouldn’t be significant impact on traffic, and questioned why people continue to raise the issue.

“What is the point of conducting a study if its findings and facts are going to be refuted by opinion?” he asked the commissioners.

Supporters of the school highlighted the traffic studies and reiterated the school will remain small.

Several parents from the school pointed out there are 30 schools in Ann Arbor and, according to their findings, every school’s enrollment is higher than what is planned by the Michigan Islamic Academy. They also plotted the schools’ locations and each bordered residential zones. They questioned why none of those schools are considered a danger like the proposed the Islamic Academy.

The school is planned on a 26-acre parcel on the south side of Ellsworth, where Golfside dead-ends. Cars would exit via a new, short street that would create a four-way intersection at the dead-end.


Planning Commissioner Deborah Wililams

Tom Perkins | For

The driveway running in front of the school is designed to accommodate 70 cars and runs diagonally from Ellsworth to the new street. Nahlawi said the school, currently located on Plymouth Road in Ann Arbor, has nearly 200 students enrolled. Many families carpool and the school also has two buses and vans, Nahlawi said, so there wouldn't be a situation where the traffic is backed up out to Ellsworth.

Dave Kubiske, an engineer with the David Archer consulting firm, argued that the township’s master plan does allow for schools of a smaller size in residential zones.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations recently sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice asking them to monitor the situation. If the department finds evidence of a constitutional violation after the Board of Trustees makes its final decision, then it could launch a full investigation.

Lena Masri, a CAIR and Islamic Academy attorney, previously explained she believes the school’s religious rights could be violated because the township cannot deny it the right to operate due to a minor impact on traffic and noise. She said the traffic studies have demonstrated that traffic volume wouldn’t significantly increase.

At the meeting, she provided a detailed breakdown of how the site plan meets the township’s standards and stressed that the township cannot reject the plan based on subjective issues.

In a letter to the justice department, CAIR Director Dawud Walid expressed concern that opposed residents “negatively influenced the planning commission in making a decision against the Michigan Islamic Academy…” and stated that “derogatory remarks were also made regarding Muslims and their religious practice” during public comment at the June 16 meeting.

At the meeting, he told the commission a fear of property values dropping and other issues brought up are not legitimate reasons for the commission to reject a religious school that under Religious Institutions Land Use Protection Act.

Nahlawi said no adjustments would be made to the plan before it goes in front of the Board of Trustees. He said 60 percent of the school’s families live in Pittsfield Township and they aren’t finding another location or giving up.

“It’s not over yet,” he said.


Mohamed Baghdadi

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 11:19 p.m.

I found it all being quite rediculous. I was very disappointed to hear that they denied the rezoning. The article clearly said that TWO traffic studies had been held to see whether or not building the school would affect traffic. According to the professionals, building a school there would not affect traffic greatly. Furthermore, the professionals said that building even more houses would make matters worse. According to the residents-NOT the professionals- building the school WOULD create traffic problems, and making it a residents area WOULDN'T. Several residents claimed that they had bought houses 20-30 years ago knowing that there wouldn't be a giant "box" when they look out their window, but knowing that when they open their window, they would see 200 tiny boxes. But because zoning the land as a residents area this would create "traffic" problems so the idea should be cleared away and let the land rot not being used for anything. Another issue was Fortis Academy. Fortis Academy which had started out as a small school decided that it should expand over the years. Eventually it got to a point where the school grew so big, that this became a problem for the residents. However, nobody had complained to Pittsfield about Fortis's uncontrollable growth. In fact, -according to the article- Fortis Academy is even planning on expanding its territory even more. But will THIS affect traffic problems? YES, and despite this, nobody cared about complaining because Fortis is a NON-MUSLIM school. And this expansion issue was yet another one of the million other pointless excuses pittsfield made for the rezoning issue.


Sun, Aug 7, 2011 : 10:02 p.m.

" However, nobody had complained to Pittsfield about Fortis's uncontrollable growth. In fact, -according to the article- Fortis Academy is even planning on expanding its territory even more. But will THIS affect traffic problems? YES, and despite this, nobody cared about complaining because Fortis is a NON-MUSLIM school. And this expansion issue was yet another one of the million other pointless excuses pittsfield made for the rezoning issue." -Nobody is complaining to Pittsfield Twp. about this because it is in Ypsilanti Twp. It has absolutly nothing to do with religion. Please get your facts straight before throwing the religion card.


Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

All of the "CONCERNS" are ridiculous. Any new building causes changes in traffic. Just deal with it. And the complaint that it's a residential area is nuts. Almost all residential areas have a school attached to them. In fact people with children buying a house look for that. The worry that the school will grow to 1000 children is really a worry that more Muslim families will move into the area. Anyone watching this knows this is a religious issue or rather a Christian vs. non-Christian issue! I see it's politiks as usual in the "Peoples Republic of Ann Arbor"

Terry Star21

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:36 p.m.

I complement the actions of Pittsfield Township Planning Commission. All issues were studied, residents concerns were carefully listened to and the right decision was made. Pittsfield Township has clearly illustrated over the years their number one priority is it's residents, their environment and their safety and well fare - and they continue to to act true to those ethics. GoPittsfieldTownshipForResidentsForBetterLiving..........

Basic Bob

Sat, Aug 6, 2011 : 2:24 a.m.

If they are true to their ethics as you say, that includes pandering to the right wing neo Christians. It's not ethical to be a bully.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

"The biggest issue has been traffic concerns . . . " I'm calling you out, Pittsfield Township! You just approved a Costco mega-super "small business killing" store, think that's going to cause any traffic concerns? Our founding fathers thought xenophobia wasn't cool, so they wrote the first amendment.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:44 p.m.

In reading articles here and elsewhere - I think the issue is long-term growth on the site. If I were the Township, I would agree with some legal stipulations. How about a 20 year agreement that no community center will be built on the site and that the school building will not be used as a community center? How about an upper limit to the number of students on the site - they are asking for 360 now, how about a limit of say 500 on the site. If the backers of the school are serious that it will not grow, then this should not be an issue, and it should provide peace of mind for the residents. I know a number of people near the North Ridge church had complaints when it was first proposed in Plymouth. The planning board agreed, but it eventually got built anyway. The church was to hold about 700, now it can hold many more than that. No one thought to get an agreement on future growth. It may be that this kind of an agreement is all that is needed and it may be that by asking for it, we may find that backers really are interested in just a small school, or that they do have additional plans for to the land. But without asking we can only guess.

John Q

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.

I hope the nearby residents aren't getting their hopes up on this decision. If the Township Board denies this, it will be in court and a judge will overturn the denial. Schools are typically permitted in residential zoned areas and the Planning Commission's decision seems to deliberately ignore the facts regarding the traffic study. A judge won't do the same.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

We have zoning for a reason. This is nothing like the Costco rezoning request. Since so much is being made of these traffic studies, would it be too much to print them and tell us who paid for them and who conducted them? Or is that too much to ask from a blog?

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 7:15 p.m.

"It's not over" - should that be taken as some kind of threat? No way to sway the township or the neighborhood.

Barnaby Fry

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 9:13 p.m.

"It's not over" is a statement of fact, because the Board of Trustees has final say on the issue. If you choose to find that threatening, it says more about you than Nahlawi or the school


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

A couple things: 1) Regardless of the traffic issues, I see no real justification for the change presented by the school in everything I have read. They were aware of the zoning before getting involved with the property. They probably are fighting for this because they got a really great deal on the property. 2) Based on what I have read I don't see the traffic issues as being a problem. 3) The school in itself won't hurt property values. If times weren't so bad they might actually go up. 4) I am sure regardless of what anyone is saying there is an element that is prejudice against Islam. Unfortunately the ethic card has been thrown out there by the CAIR. It makes it look like they had no real justification for the zoning change and have are throwing the ethnic card in an attempt to get their way. If they hadn't thrown the ethnic card I would be highly supportive of the zoning change, but, now I believe the current zoning should remain.

Life in Ypsi

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:06 p.m.

Maybe they could look into purchasing one of Willow Runs closed down schools.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:18 p.m.

Not a bad idea. Something of substance finally.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

I'm not arguing the situations are exactly analogous, but anyone who believes zoning regulations are neutral with regard to race, religion, etc, should look up Shelley v. Kraemer, or the concurrent case from right here in Michigan, Sipes v. McGhee.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

The major complaint I heard last night from the neighbors, is that there is already a large school located diagonally across the busy intersection from where MIA wants to build. That existing school, Fortis Academy, has 740 students and is considering further expansion. So adding another school for 360 students would compound an already strained infrastructure. It is important to remember that these are not "neighborhood schools" in the normal sense of the word, because few students live in the immediate neighborhoods. The existing school, Fortis Academy, is a high demand charter school that draws in students from throughout the county. The proposed MIA would also be a private school where most of the students would be transported in from around the county. Also, the many schools in Ann Arbor do not have 2 schools of this magnitude affecting their neighborhoods. Further, many A2 schools are located on large pieces of property and can be approached from several sides, instead of a single side which is a busy 5 lane road.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:43 p.m.

Thsnk you for a neutral response that actually provided useful information.

Not a valid excuse for a newspaper

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

It may be that legitimate concerns about traffic delays at the nearby Fortis Academy led residents to raise concern that the pattern would repeat itself. What is regrettable is that neither the residents nor the Commission heeded the facts - the traffic studies, proposed student head count increase, carpooling survey etc. As a result, and in light of the other recent high-profile rezoning action (for Costco), it is not a great leap to construe both the residents' disapproval of the proposed change and the commissioners who voted against rezoning as veiled racism, regardless of whether or not racism played a role. In the past, this Commission has stood up for residents' concerns, notably when an larger Section 8 housing development was proposed in the area that later became the Arbor Woods subdivision. In that case however, the residents presented overwhelming evidence to support their position rather than merely voicing concern. The potential court challenge of yesterday's vote will likely cost Pittsfield Township dearly.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:54 p.m.

This is funny to hear the residents say just homes. When less than a mile east you have a shopping center with more crime than the school will bring. Then if you travel east maybe a mile there is more shopping. So where is this vast acerage or miles of homes that these people are speaking about. Freemind42 has a good point and I have heard the same thing. Schools raise property value. Plus I have never seen a school that is not located in a residential area. I am just saying what if this was a catholic school or a prestigious private school? Would there be suchan uproar?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

I live on a small side street in Ann Arbor with a 500 student school and yes, traffic is a problem once and a while, especially when they have their ice cream social. But, on the weekends, the school is like a park. Our kids play on the playground, people walk their dogs around the school and play ball on the baseball diamond. I would much rather have a school than a strip mall. Having the Fortis Academy right down the block already from the proposed site, most of the NIMBY arguments should have fallen on deaf ears. I fear that the neighborhood people don't want an Islamic Academy in their neighborhood. I wonder what would have happened if this was a Christian School?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:39 p.m.

I find it distressing that so many people are so willing to accuse people they don't even know of discrimination. Why is this? Does it make one feel superior? Do some see the world as a basically hostile place? Does one simply lack imagination as to other possible casues? i really don't get it.

Sandria Kellermann

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:13 p.m.

We live on the Pittsfield Township border and this is truly sad. No matter what the publicly stated reasons, my instincts tell me there is underlying fear and prejudice here. Since when does a good school hurt property values particularily a religious school? We have some of the best public schools in the state if not the country, and it is sad that more Muslim kids don't join us in public schools so our kids can learn what being American means and learn to reach out to all Americans. But no wonder they need their own schools, who can blame them? With this much ambivalence, and underlying fear, these American kids deserve to have their own religious school too. What are your fears? Are they that if the school is built more Islamic families will buy property here? As a half Jewish/Catholic girl, remember our past mistakes and let us not repeat them. On the eve of 9-11, our ten year anniversary, this is a sad depiction of who we are here in Ann Arbor/Pittsfield area. These are our fellow Americans. These are CHILDREN who will add value to our neighborhoods as other schools have done for us,and help the housing market which is abysmal now, and add to the richness of our own childrens' lives as they blend with ours in friednships. We are better than this. It is why I moved here with my family because I believed in the values that this area has always had of tolerance,acceptance and respect. Open your hearts and minds friends.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

@the compound, re your question ....reality?? ( assuming , of course,)one is paying attention.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:38 p.m.

I thought the CHILDREN were already in the neighborhood, they just have to carpool to their private school? And, I know we have "Godwin's Law" regarding bringing up the hitler/nazi's, we have a "Law" when 9/11 gets used as an excuse?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

I don't know much about the present school and its curriculum...But i do know that many other such schools have extremely skewed curricula on, say, geography/world politics, in that maps of the world regularly omit actual country...which is a profound political statement at marked odds with both reality and wider national values and interests. It is also a fact that CAIR--the point group behind the challenge-- has been deemed by a congressional subcommittee to be uncomfortably close to groups deemed extremist. Your instincts may be somewhat correct on the "fear and prejudice" front, but sometimes wariness ( if not fear) is justified and 'prejudice" ( prejudgement) may actually be justified "postjudice" or negative views based on past realities.

L. C. Burgundy

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:29 p.m.

Sorry, religion doesn't buy you a get-out-of-the-rules card. Nobody is entitled to rezoning. Traffic is already a nightmare in that area thanks to Fortis - another school with another 360 students will not help. I once lived near this area and knew just to avoid it early in the day! Your accusations about religious prejudice are totally without substance or evidence and highly insulting and condescending.

Somewhat Concerned

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Nobody is entitled to rezoning, and that includes religious organizations. The Council on American-Islamic Relations apparently is just a pressure group to get religious organizations special treatment. As we try to separate church and state in America, they are off base and we need to resist their pressure tactics.

Steve in MI

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:19 p.m.

Tell that to the "Melvin T. Walls Manor", a religiously-owned apartment bloc and community center right around the corner on Hewitt Road. Various Ypsilanti Township boards granted permits, variances, and exceptions for this "ministry" (yes, Pastor Walls called it a "ministry" in his presentation to the zoning board) to be built in an area that was - wait for it - zoned residential. And the board backed him... both because it was good to have development in a location that was otherwise not going to be developed, and also because it was part of a broader "community outreach" backed by a religious organization. We can have a fair conversation about whether religious groups SHOULD get special treatment in America. We can discuss whether church property should be tax-exempt, and whether Christian schools should get favorable treatment in zoning decisions. But today, in Washtenaw County, in Michigan, and in the rest of America, church groups DO get special dispensation. This being an Islamic academy, however, it was clearly singled out for special discrimination, not special dispensation. This is AMERICA, and we must treat all groups equally here. Hiding behind excuses like traffic and noise won't cut it.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

I found the statements of Commission members quoted in another article on this story to be puzzling, in the least. One stated that owners of homes in that area never expected that there would be a school nearby. Really? Where *does* one expect schools to be built, in industrial zones? Schools should be in residential areas, where children can walk to school and where they are safe. How is it that a township master plan would not provide for the construction of schools in residential areas? One is left to think either that the township planners have little to no idea about questions of community planning and, therefore, that they have no business holding a seat on this body, or that they are expressing or caving to bigoted fears of 'those people' moving into the neighborhood. Either way, it's not acceptable.

Michigan Man

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

The Pittsfield Township leaders stood tall last night. The vast, vast majority of the fine residents of Ann Arbor support your position.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:11 p.m.

Tarek Nahlawi, an Islamic Academy board member, Lena Masri, a CAIR and Islamic Academy attorney, and CAIR Director Dawud Walid have turned this issue into anti Muslin charges. They are already threatening the Pittsfield Township Board with reference to: the Religious Institutions Land Use Protection Act, "the school's religious rights could be violated" comment, and "derogatory remarks were also made regarding Muslims and their religious practice" statement. The Pittsfield Township Planning Commission needs to "Stay the Course" and make the decision based on the facts of the impact to the neighborhood now and in the future.

Steve in MI

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:09 p.m.

...and there are people who built on Ellsworth Road not expecting to be across the street from a Wal-Mart (previously zoned agricultural). Or, for that matter, across the street from Silverleaf itself (likewise, previously zoned agricultural). Where is the outpouring of outrage for these deeply wronged citizens? If this were a Christian school or a church petitioning for this zoning, you wouldn't hear squat about it. Noise and traffic? Tell that to the neighbors of every church in this county. This is America, and we treat people equally here. Anything a church can do, a mosque can do; anything a Hebrew school or a Christian school can do, an Islamic academy can do. Every appearance suggests that the Pittsfield Township commission has caved to un-American prejudices in this case.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

John, I appreciate your thoughtful response. However, it addresses only the present impact, thought not completely. Consider the impact in ten or twenty years. There are many people who built in idyllic settings several years ago that are now impacted by congestion. Please consider these scenarios. Respectfully, Doug

John Ricardo Jr

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:52 p.m.

"make the decision based on the facts of the impact to the neighborhood now and in the future." .. facts?? Do you mean the traffic study?? (YES, I agree this is considered as a fact more than a few neighbors' emotions).. I thought the study stated that there's minimal impact.. so, according to your statement, the township should've approved the project and not rejected it.. Why do we insist on beating around the bushes?? Face it.. you're not looking at facts..


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:06 p.m.

How very Christian of them!

Michigan Man

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:38 p.m.

A2 - are you an agnostic or atheist? Do you understand the difference between the two?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:45 p.m.

Maybe I don't remember the lessons in my urban planning classes as well as I thought, but don't we want schools in residential areas?

Pamela L.

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

@10dz: If you read the article more closely you would see that it isn't about a school next to houses. Your right - they are everywhere. Rather it is about a school trying to fit in well after people bought homes thinking another houses would be behind them. For the dozen or so houses that must back up to the school, it must be very upsetting. Zoning and final site plans are in place for a reason - to give a reasonable degree of certainty of what to expect later.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:29 p.m.

From what I understand a good school in a neighorhood is the best thing for property values. As for building one in a residential zone, I find the objections kind of odd. Where else would you build a school? You put the school closest to where the children are, i.e. a residential zone.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

I'm not buying the rationale, We have schools in residential areas all over this city and township. Hmm, you have to wonder if it's because this is a "Muslim" school. Just sayin??? Race and religion are always an issue, so please don't deny it.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:05 p.m.

This unfortunate decision has to be considered in light of the fact that religious institutions are traditionally given MORE freedom from zoning regulations, not less, specifically to avoid infringing on the free practice of religion. Think about the church bells that wake me up at 11 in the morning or all the cars parked on too-narrow side streets on Sundays because we relax parking restrictions so people can park near church.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:19 p.m.

Steve, Has a non-religious school applied for rezoning in Pittsfield township?

Steve in MI

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

Rusty's right on the money here. This school deserves the same consideration that any other religious organization would be given. Instead, they were given *less* freedom than a non-religious organization would have received. There are two possible explanations for this. Both are unconstitutional.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

I agree that religious institutions have often been allowed to abuse zoning laws and to impinge on the privacy and convenience of their neighbors. This is wrong and should be resisted. The answer is not to call for more of the same (because some religions are more equal than others?).


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : noon

Handling this as a "Muslim" situation with kid gloves and not looking at the zoning problem facing people at Silverleaf who have rights also is ridicules. Hang in there Siverleaf residents - the planning commission is hearing your legal voice.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:59 a.m.

While I can see both sides of the issue, I think it is foolish for those wanting the school to say with certainty that it will always stay small. Would enrollment size be guaranteed in some sort of contract, i.e. there can be no more than 360 students at any one time? Since Nahlawi does not "foresee" the school becoming any bigger "in the near future", that should not be a problem.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:47 a.m.

I'm really proud of the Planning Commission, who made what is obviously the correct decision in the face of such accusations like "violations of religious rights" and the other intimidating, racially charged statements I've heard and read. This has nothing to do with violating someone's religious rights (how offensive to make such an accusation). This has everything to do with envisioning traffic years down the road, and taking the established resident's wishes into consideration. I hope this is following a trend I've noticed--the race and religion card is played out and has, to most people, completely lost its effectiveness. Congratulations, and thank you for your courage to do what is right, not what you were bullied into.

Pamela L.

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

I have nothing against an Islamic school and would live near one, but can sympathize with residents who bought a house and expected single family homes to be behind them like the one resident noted above. I wouldn't want to have something unzoned go in a disrupt the harmony of an original subdivision's layout. I don't care if its a school, store, factory, whatever. If there is a plan to radically change something near residential lots, then it needs to be met with closer scrutiny. Even people living down the road and not in the subdivision might have thought differently about buying their home if they knew traffic would later be an issue. Looks like the township got it right for the residents.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

Steve, thank you. Radical to describe a school? Oy.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.

Steve in MI says: "I'm willing to wager that one school would create less noise and less traffic than a 100-unit subdivision. would have. And I'm not convinced that adding a school to a neighborhood can be counted as a "radical change." " You're kidding, right? You obviously have never lived next to a school. Had friends who did. Constant noise and trash and oodles of traffic. And have you never picked up children from school? I certainly have - and waited in lines of cars amidst buses, kids, etc. for my child. People in subdivions come and go at various times. Schools have high intensity traffic ast least two times a day. Please, get real. If you want a school in someone else's neighborhood, just say so. But the argument that a school is almost unnoticeable is ridiculous.

Steve in MI

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

I'm willing to wager that one school would create less noise and less traffic than a 100-unit subdivision. would have. And I'm not convinced that adding a school to a neighborhood can be counted as a "radical change".


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:26 a.m.

What happened with Costco yesterday? Nothing on or Pittsfield tsp site? Why did drop this announcement at the most critical moment, final site approval? They were there. Jobs and job changes are pending...


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:22 a.m.

"Dave Kubiske, an engineer with the David Archer consulting firm, argued that the township's master plan does allow for schools of a smaller size in residential zones. " So does this mean that it DOES allow for a large school? Maybe the Islamic Academy should shoot higher. Also, to all these people saying: "When I moved here it was all supposed to be houses..." You should know better than to assume that you can control the future. Land is re-zoned all the time because of many different factors. There are many developed areas that used to be rural. That's how life works. Something being "unfair" is not a reason for it to change. This may be news to you, but life isn't always fair. None of your reasons for not wanting the school are reasonable. If you wanted to control what happened to the property around you then you should have bought a number of acres yourself so you could be in control. I look forward to the Islamic Academy suing and winning this because there have been a number of questionable decisions in Pittsfield Township over the last few years. TIme for them to realize they are not better than everybody else.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:50 p.m.

Pamela, of course residents should share their concerns, but they should not assume that raising concerns will equal "winning." Of course the residents will disagree with people with opposing viewpoints, but I do agree with Obvious that the residents should be able to expect nothing to ever change around their community.

Lets Get Real

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:44 p.m.

Would you like to give facts that support your opinion - "there have been a number of questionable decisions . . . . . "


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:01 p.m.

Since life isn't "fair", maybe the Islamic Academy should except the decision and be done with it?

Pamela L.

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:30 a.m.

So your saying residents should never raise concerns and should just roll over to whatever anyone wants to put in, wherever it might be? That position defies logic and my guess is these residents would disagree with you.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:13 a.m.

Sorry i didnt see in article where this was to be built. Anyone know? Thanks.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

If you know where Fortis Academy is located, it would be across the street. I am glad to see the township is voting no. That area is totally chaotic when Fortis is letting out mostly its students. That area cannot handle that amount of traffic unless there is a separate street that vents to the highway.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:44 a.m.

It's near the end of the article - on Ellsworth across from where Golfside ends.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:08 a.m.

I am opposed to sectarianism in all its forms. In my perfect world there would be no publicly supported sectarian education. However, this is not my perfect world and to ban Muslims in 2011 is as repugnant as banning Catholic schools in 1900 or German language church services in 1917. There is a very foul odor here and it is the odor of fear and narrow minded ethnocentrism.

L. C. Burgundy

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

I'd say the foul odor is of baseless "racism" accusations more than anything (Muslims are a race now, I guess?).


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.

Thank you Pittsfield Township for listening to the concerns of residents and rejecting this proposal. It's clear to anyone who attended last night that the residents who live in this area have genuine concerns. We bought our homes with the understanding that this would be residential and stay that way. Thank you for supporting the dozens of residents that attended and for not caving in to threats and intimidation. Refreshing to see a township government listening to its residents. If I bought a house with a school in place or a plan on the books already, then different story. Enough is is enough.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 8:45 p.m.

Zoning always changes - it's not practical to assume that the land/plans will NEVER be changed. We are talking about a SCHOOL, not Walmart.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 10:50 a.m.

Sixty percent of the school's families live in Pittsfield Township. Presumably many of these also vote here. Even if they don't, they deserve some consideration as members of the community. Homes will not be built here in the next twenty years, probably never. There are so many available lots now that are sitting vacant. Even with the odd angle of the main entrance, this is an excellent location for a school. It increases traffic on Ellsworth past the shopping areas, which benefits both Pittsfield and Ypsilanti township businesses (Meijer, Target, Walmart). The elected board of trustees should be listening and override the recommendation of the planning commission. Unless they prefer DOJ oversight.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

"Homes will not be built here in the next twenty years, probably never. There are so many available lots now that are sitting vacant." Not true. A builder is currently building new homes just west of the Silver Leaf subdivision. The houses are currently priced to sell. I think there is approximately 20 new homes there. This is my neighborhood and I have no issue with the school. However, it is clear that the land can still be used for residential development.

Basic Bob

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

@ksr48, I am not a former board member nor am I related to any. I don't know any personally. I don't even know what former board members think on this issue. This is not about the former board. This is about a pattern of arbitrary and capricious government in Pittsfield which started in 2008 (with roots in the failed Walmart recall). The current board represents only the interests of southwest township residents. If the school says the majority of their families live in Pittsfield, how can you dispute that? Do you have registration data from the school? it seems plausible to me based on the demographics of east side "Ypsilanti" neighborhoods.

Lets Get Real

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:59 p.m.

"60% of the school's families live in Pittsfield Township" and the current school is on the north side of the city and many carpool. So, my take on that is they are abandoning a poorly maintained property on the north side of the city to move to Pittsfield Township so those that live in Pittsfield will no longer have to carpool, but instead make the short trip individually significantly changing the skewed traffic studies (Do you really think there was not a coordinated effort to respond to the intent questions in a way that benefits the school?) "The community center is no longer part of the plan" until they get approval and start this process all over again. Don't kid yourself, this is a long term strategic plan: step by step, battle by battle. They know the current listening leadership will change. Don't be surprised if they seat a respresentative who could be the swing vote at some time in the future.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:16 a.m.

Would like to see the former township board that was ousted in 2008 take a public stance on this issue. Would it be one that is clearly contrary to what residents want? Wouldn't be the first time. Posts like this one are purely political as are all Pittsfield postings from Basic. Where does former township clerk Feliziana Meyer stand on this issue? The former treasurer? Make it public which side you are on instead of being anonymous so residents in this area know what your position is. 60% of schools members are residents of Pittsfield? Not if you attended the same meeting as the neighbors did last night or the other meetings. Use a biased number as your basis if it supports your premise.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 10:40 a.m.

For all of those who complained about the alleged obstructionism of Pittsfield Township in not simply granting Costco a permit despite it not fitting in the master plan, this is why the township acted as it did. Almost certainly this is going to court and, when it does, almost certainly the manner in which Costco received a zoning change from Pittsfield will come under review. Good Night and Good Luck