Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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Planning board OKs light industrial use next to future Muslim cemetery


Burlington’s planning and zoning commission has endorsed a request for light industrial zoning on land next to the proposed site of a Muslim cemetery that Burlington’s city council recently approved along Hanford Road.

This particular request, which received the planning commission’s unanimous blessing on Monday, comes on the heels of the council’s decision to let the Burlington Makkah Masjid establish an Islamic burial ground on 1.3 acres of a much larger tract on the north side of Hanford Road. The proposal that came up for consideration on Monday concerns the remaining 14.24 acres of the land that the Masjid owns in this location.

The council ultimately approved the Masjid’s plans for a cemetery on June 1 despite opposition from the city’s planning department, which had insisted a contrary recommendation in the city’s comprehensive land-use plan that called for some form of industrial development on the cemetery’s prospective site.

As a concession to the land-use plan’s vision, the Masjid had assured the council that it would seek industrial zoning for the balance of its property along Hanford Road. The Burlington-based mosque had also apparently made this same pledge to some neighboring property owners, whose initial objections to the cemetery had led to several months of negotiations before the Masjid presented its plans to Burlington’s city council.

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Ryan Moffitt, an attorney with Burlington’s Vernon Law Firm, alluded to the mosque’s commitment to its neighbors when he pitched its request for industrial zoning to the city’s planning commission on Monday.

“They had an interest in having this property preserved for future industrial use,” Moffitt said of the site’s neighbors during the commission’s regularly-scheduled meeting that evening. “That’s why we’re here today – to fulfill our agreement with those neighbors and to designate the remainder of the Masjid’s property for future industrial use.”

Moffitt went on to inform the commission’s members that his clients haven’t decided what they’ll do with the property if the city agrees to rezone it for light industrial use.

“I would say that this applicant has no immediate plans for an industrial development,” the attorney added. “But it does help with what the future land use map would provide.”

The commission’s members went on to vote 7-to-0 in favor of the request based on a recommendation from the city’s planning manager Conrad Olmedo.

“We’re basing our recommendation off of the future land use map,” Olmedo told the commission. “This proposal is consistent with the comprehensive land use plan and staff is recommending approval.”

See earlier coverage of city council consideration of rezoning for Muslim cemetery, passed on 4-1 vote:

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