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Is Liberty Corner Location Right for Mosque? [POLL]

Proposed 4,200-square-foot mosque planned for Church Street would be across from Liberty Corner Fire Co.

The Bernards Township on Tuesday night heard a proposal for a new 4,200 square foot mosque at the far end of Church Street in Liberty Corner, an a four-plus acre property that is near the intersection of the street with Somerville Road.

A house of worship, by law, is a permitted use in a residential zone. Moreover, according to Ali Chaudry, a Rutgers professor, longtime Basking Ridge resident and former township mayor, has said the mosque is needed to serve those who live and work in the Somerset Hills area. He also heads the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge.

But will attract 150 members within the next 10 years — and board members asked for Chaudry to provide more information. The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 4, at 7:30 p.m. at the municipal building.

The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge already owns the property where the plan is to demolish the exisiting four-bedroom home, Chaudry has said. Meanwhile, the Islamic temple to go up would be about 4,200 square feet — not considerably larger than many new homes in Basking Ridge.

However, neighbors are concerned that many events that would be at the mosque, from a series of daily prayers that begin before dawn and end as late as about 9:30 p.m. would be disruptive for local residents and two-lane Church Street. The location was questioned.

The mosque already has been operating in rented space, with activities and worship services split between the community center in Basking Ridge, and leased classrooms at the Has anyone noticed those activities having an affect on the neighborhoods around them?

But, as one person mentioned at the meeting, would having a new mosque building attract more people, including more from further afield?

Please let us know by voting in the poll below, but realize that the Planning Board must respond to the proposal in a way that is withing the guidelines of the law.

LC August 09, 2012 at 10:22 PM
Rebecka - Chaudry testified there would be no call to prayer on a loudspeaker.There are two 35 foot tall minarets in the plan, though. (Certainly not in keeping with the LC colonial countryside.) Anyone is free to go to the planning board to view the plan, which I have done. Your point about cost to taxpayer with regard to traffic is valid. My boyfriend works in Clifton, near their mosque. He said there is so much traffic on Fridays, the town has cops out there directing the flow. The streets are completely backed up. Will we be paying cops to direct their traffic?
SweetPea August 09, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Thoughts in BR - I agree wholeheartedly and believe that the ultimate goal is to purchase surrounding properties in order to expand the mosque to accommodate a much large congregation. Rebecka - Their original plan did call for a 20 foot minaret (if memory serves - it may have been 30 feet). I'm not sure if it's been changed as the PB did question the height several months ago. Mr. Chaudry did say it would be turned toward Mecca, so the assumption is that it would be used as a call to worship. C Tucker - Since their current plans call for the demolition of the house, they are no longer required to obtain a variance. Hopefully, if enough people attend the next PB meeting on Sept. 4th and express their concerns, the existing land use ordinance will be changed. I find it hard to believe that other, more appropriate sites don't exist in Bernards Township or nearby. I don't believe that Mr. Chaudry is at all concerned with the 'greater good.'
LC August 10, 2012 at 12:55 AM
This is by no means a "done deal." Even though no variances are needed and houses of worship are allowed in R2 zones, the Planning Committee must deside whether the project is compatible with the Master Plan, which you can find on the Bernards Twp website. There are many issues to consider: environmental, noise, traffic, overall change to the nature of the neighborhood. Please come out and support the LC neighborhood (and the whole town, really) at the next meeting. There is hope. A group of residents has formed a group-Bernards Township Citizens for Responsible Development - look up their website.
LC August 10, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Chaudry offered the Boonton mosque as a comparable facility - I went on their website and found they have lectures at 11 pm and have things going on at 1am and 2am. I do not believe his representations that this will be a lightly used facility. They have spent a quarter of a million dollars on a property they must first demolish - I have to imagine the project will cost at least $1.25 to 1.5 million - probably more. For services for 5 people? Ha.
Wendi Smith August 10, 2012 at 01:14 AM
TJ - if a orthodox Jewish temple we erected you couldn't pray their either. We cannot discriminate because of any religions practices (well I guess human sacrifice would cause a stir) We can be upset over planning and such but not how they have been serving their faith for thousands of years.
Rob Wilco August 10, 2012 at 01:42 AM
This is LIBERTY Corner we're talking about, right?
C Tucker August 10, 2012 at 01:50 AM
SweatPea, the next meeting is the day after Labor Day (not the greatest timing)...I personally will be out of town- is there a petition that you know of, or another way to express objection to the project?
LC August 10, 2012 at 02:21 AM
C - go to Bernards Township Citizens for Responsible Development website (BTCRD.org) Their attorney was at the last meeting - he is a land use attorney. The website details their objective of preserving the Liberty Corner residential area. They will be posting updates and you can donate toward the attorney fees, which I did today. I hope you can make future meetings - it's so important that we get involved with this. Oh - when I filled out the contact info on BTCRD's site, the administrator emailed that there is another group working on lawn signs and raising awareness. I think they are the "Preserve Liberty Corner" people - but I haven;t heard from them yet.
C Tucker August 10, 2012 at 02:40 AM
Thanks LC!
Khurshid Khan August 10, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Women are NOT discriminated in Islam. A woman can go to mosque at anytime to pray if she chooses.
Khurshid Khan August 10, 2012 at 03:20 AM
My goodness, you really need to educate yourself about the teachings of true Islam. The problem is that you are believing everything you hear on the media and therefore have very limited knowlege on Islam. This religion like any other is a peacful religion. People for centuries have fought with each other and blame the religion for their short comings. All religions teach good things! Just because some crazies who called themselves muslims went and did some terrible acts does not mean that all muslims are like that. We are peacfeful people.
LC August 10, 2012 at 03:31 PM
Khurshid: Do not put words in my mouth. I NEVER said all Muslims are violent. I never would say such a thing because I know it's not true. By the same token, you cannot truthfully say that only "some crazies who called themselves muslims did some terrible acts" is the real situation with violence connected to Islam. Look at what's happening in the world today. Also wrong: I do not get my information from the "media" - I get it from the Quran and from antiterrorism experts such as Ryan Mauro of Family Security Matters, which I link above. I am not concerned with what happened centuries ago with other religions - I am concerned with now - the 21st century. All that aside - regardless of any personal views on Islam - the LC property is not suitable for this project. I question the decision to wedge this mosque between 2 private homes in a quiet, semi rural environment. Period.
swag jim August 14, 2012 at 03:43 AM
I like this guy hahaha
swag jim August 14, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Oh, and btw people, as a young person living in Basking Ridge, I am disgusted by your bigotry. Traffic, smaffic. Go harrass your own families. This is America. My family didn't fight in three wars so people could squash freedom of religion due to "traffic problems". TL:DR: If YOU don't like it, you can GET OUT. But the Muslims can stay. Because thats what America is about.
Yulia Goggi August 25, 2012 at 10:10 PM
When I read this article my heart sank. I've been seing signs around my home saying "preserve liberty corner". I just assumed they were talking about the recent development of a brand new mansion near the alpaca farm. I'm saddened to find out about the development plans. I have seen how the Sri Venkateswara Temple impacted its surrounding area in Bridgewater. It impacted traffic patterns. The homes and trees surrounding the location have been cleared out. New facilities have been added that are visually unpleasing. Liberty Corner is a charming, old, quiet community. When I moved here from Jersey City, I wanted my home to feel like a respite from the hussle and bussle of city (and even suburban) life. Anyone who's ever driven on Liberty Corner Road will attest to its quiet, rural feel. Knowing that traffic and crowds will be drawn to this neighborhood in all hours of the day and night is disheartening. Additionally, as a woman, I have an issue with any institution that treats its women unfairly. I'm glad that I looked into this matter and intend to attend the upcoming meeting on September 4th. If anyone knows where to get the "preserve liberty corner" sign, please let me know. I will proudly display it on my property.
LC August 29, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Hi Yulia. I'm glad you've looked into this, too. You can get a lawn sign by emailing preservelibertycorner@gmail.com. Also - please visit the website of Bernards Township Citizens for Responsible Development at www.BTCRD.org and sign up for email updates. This group has hired a land use attorney to fight the mosque project, as it does not belong in lovely little Liberty Corner. If you can, please donate, as they need funds for legal fees. If you can't, just showing up to planning board meetings is good, too. Let all your friends and neighbors know about this. Many people, like yourself, don't know what the signs mean and haven't even heard about the proposed mosque. Please stay after the meeting on Tuesday night to chat.
Linda Hernandez September 04, 2012 at 06:42 PM
That streets intersection is already a concern!
SweetPea September 05, 2012 at 01:55 PM
LC - Unfortunately, it would appear that your earlier comment regarding whether or not the proposed mosque is compatible with the Master Plan is irrelevant. Our rather useless attorney, Stuart Koenig (who is paid to advise both the PB and the TC) said last night "that the board must approve the application if it is determined to be in compliance with local zoning ordinances. That would be the case even if the proposed use might not be consistent with the municipal Master Plan, which calls for the preservation of the historic village." Unbelievable, but true. It would be interesting to know whether or not Ali Chaudry was on the TC (as the acting Mayor, perhaps?) when the current ordinance was amended to allow 'permitted,' as opposed to, 'conditional' use for a religious institution. I wouldn't be at all surprised. Clearly, he has no concern for whether or not a place of worship in that particular location will have a negative impact on the surrounding neighbors' lives and/or home values, not to mention, the detrimental effect it will have on the town, over all. I can guarantee that their 'master plan' consists of buying the surrounding properties, after those residents tire of the traffic, noise, etc. (and realize their best offer will come from the ISBR) and expanding the building to create the most beautiful mosque in the country. Their own attorney, Bisogno, confirmed that last night: "The size of the congregation is not relevant. We want people to come to us."
LC September 05, 2012 at 08:10 PM
Hi. Yes, I was there. I wish we connected afterward. Next meeting, hang around outside - I'll call out "SweetPea!" Haha. Yeah - it's a mess. You have excellent points - It can't be too hard to find out when the TC passed that part of the ordinance and whether Choudry was on it. I wouldn't be surprised. I have some excellent articles on the Islamic Society of North America's(connected with the Muslim Brotherhood) plans to grow mosques and spread Sharia throughout the USA over the next 20 years. Chaudry has praised ISNA - it's in an article here on Patch, where he warns us not to be "Islamophobic" during the 9/11 anniversary. Also, ISBRI has a link to ISNA on their website. I hope you continue to attend. It's not a done deal, still. There are some environmental issues. I picked up all the paperwork on the project from the Planning Board offices, as is our legal right. And, parking may turn out to be an issue. Choudry is misrepresenting the numbers- pretty obvious when being questioned by Mr Orr. And - you're right. His clear disregard for the neighbors is appalling. I feel so bad for the neighborhood. I live two miles away, but am also concerned about what this means for the future of the township.
Yulia Goggi September 05, 2012 at 09:20 PM
Will they consider what the surrounding neighbors have to say in the statement phase? It was so sad to see the man from the neighboring property speak last night. Can this be taken up with any other agencies in the town or the county other then the planning board. I understand the implications of the zoning rules, but aren't they taking quality of lives into consideration at all?
LC September 06, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Yulia - I tried to look you up through Facebook but couldn't send you a message. I found your husband's page, though, and sent him a message. If you contact me through there (I also joined the FB page Preserve Liberty Corner)- you will see who I am and we can talk about some ideas. We must remain vigilant. This is not a done deal. But we must be cohesive and persistent Look me up!
logical thinker September 07, 2012 at 12:42 PM
swag jim! finally some common sense!
logical thinker September 07, 2012 at 12:44 PM
JJ has now switched to this handle
Barbara Brooks October 29, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Preserve Liberty Corner?! That's quite a large Fire Dept. you've got there within 1/4 mile of the elementary school, expansive Presbyterian Church complex, post office, beauty salon, bakery,dry cleaners, tennis court, major restaurant, convenience store, 2 gas stations, auto body shop, many office/busineses... Liberty Corner is a nice place but what are you preserving exactly besides the traditional bigotry of this republican area?
LC October 29, 2012 at 06:04 PM
Wow, Barbara. Angry much? Frankly, I think a Fire House close to school is a good thing. I always felt my son was safer because of it. The church you speak of has been there for almost TWO HUNDRED YEARS. The "major restaurant" is nestled into an old house and has been a restaurant for at least the 17 years I've been here. In fact, all the places you speak of have BEEN here. The "convenience store" is also in an old historic building. Additionally, ALL of those places you mention serve the very community they are in. That's what a village is about. If you knew anything about how a mosque operates, you'd know that they have very few actual members - the men come from all over. Chaudry testified to this himself at one of the planning board meetings. And - there's ONE gas station on the corner, not two. The difference here is that the ISBR bought a residential HOME to raze and build a large, institutional building and parking lot right in between two other HOMES. It has nothing to do with party affiliation. I have an idea - since you think it's such a great idea, invite ISBR to come build next door to you.
Alpharox April 08, 2013 at 01:21 PM
Well said, Barbara. The comments in this thread make me ashamed to have grown up in Basking Ridge. I moved elsewhere after college and recently returned to visit my parents. One of the neighbors was displaying a "Preserve Liberty Corner" sign. I was shocked when I learned the meaning behind it. It is embarrassing that people would "proudly" display such racism in my home town.
LC April 08, 2013 at 10:15 PM
Islam is not a race. You are clearly naive. How would your parents like it if someone bought the house right next door and planned to knock it down, pave a huge parking lot, install commercial lighting, and plan to have activities from dawn throughout the late evening? What's "racist" about not wanting that?
Truth and Reason April 27, 2013 at 01:19 AM
Let's not be naive. Islam is being called into question on these matters for good reason. There is nothing bigoted or prejudiced about asking how a rapidly growing community of Muslims in Somerset County does not represent a threat of opening doors for extreme Islamic radicals or becoming that way itself. What happens if the mosque gets vandalized or someone ignorantly defames Allah or burns a Quran, will there be a holy war here in Liberty Corner? We live in a time where radical Islam is on the rise as fast a rate or faster than moderate Islam. Don't be naive just so you are not called an "Islamaphobe" or considered backwards. Do the research. See: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/americanattacks.htm
SweetPea April 29, 2013 at 02:10 PM
Truth and Reason: Couldn't have said it better myself. It's ASTOUNDING to me that so many Americans continue to turn a blind eye to Radical Islam in the name of political correctness, especially in the wake of the Boston bombings. How much more evidence do you need to understand that the Muslim Brotherhood exists in this country and that their sole purpose is to infiltrate our communities? Paranoid? I don't think so. Racist? Absolutely not. It's unfortunate for those moderate Muslims whose faith has been bastardized, but they need to unambiguously and fervently fight against the radicalism that exists within the Islamic community. Anything less is tacit support of the radical agenda. The Islamic Society of Basking Ridge falls under the umbrella of the Islamic Society of North America. The ISNA was created by and supports the Musilm Brotherhood. Barbara Brooks and Alpharox, educate yourself before making such naive and foolish comments: http://www.granddeception.com
Native May 09, 2013 at 10:13 AM
SweetPea is correct and reasonable. Also everyone, please do not forget that a mosque has a call to prayer which is usually done over a loudspeaker. 5 times a day starting as early as 2am. Spending even a small amount of time in the lands of the Islamic faithful will show you this reality, and they are not about to do it differently for this location. Mr. Chaudry should forget the balloon test (LOL) and demonstrate the exact manner this call to prayer will be done, and not be further disingenuous! If you are confused and worried that you might offend someone by trying to protect the harmony and charm of the community, then you should step to the back and let those unafraid of good, reasonable push-back prevail in this effort. Otherwise, good luck with all this.

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