Tuesday, July 16, 2002

Overflow crowd shelves zoning meeting

By Erica Solvig esolvig@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        UNION - Residents of Plantation Pointe subdivision and the surrounding area packed to overflowing a zoning meeting Monday on a proposed religious facility, causing officials to postpone the meeting until next month.

        The Union Zoning Commission was to consider an application for a “temple (church),” submitted June 7 by Dr. M. Zineddin, of Florence.

        The plans call for an 11,100 square-foot church, a 15,600-square-foot Sunday school building and 120 parking spaces to be built on a four acres at 1290 Mt. Zion Road.

        The property, which currently has a single-family home on it, is adjacent to Plantation Pointe, a large, upper-middle-class development.

        Neighborhood groups and individual residents sent out letters encouraging people to come to the meeting and voice their concerns, including that the application does not specify the religion the facility would serve.

        Many residents at the city building said they heard it would be an Islamic mosque.

        Connie Pyke, whose property adjoins the land in question, said she had many concerns with the proposal and was “bothered” by the fact that the religion was not specified.

        “If they have 10 meetings, I'll be at every one of them,” she said.

        “It says church - it should say mosque,” said Rosemary Brill of Hebrem as she pointed to the application. “They want to hide the truth about it.”

        The application is for a conditional-use permit in a suburban residential district. These areas are primarily for single-family dwellings, although some facilities - including churches, duplexes, cemeteries and day cares - are allowed under conditional- use permits, said Todd Morgan, Boone County planner.

        “Zoning decisions are not dependent on what type of church it is,” Mr. Morgan said.

        “We treat them all the same, whether it is Catholic, Baptist or a mosque.”

        Riyad Shamma, 32, of Kenwood, a member of the congregation of more than 100 people that would use the facility, declined to reveal what religion they practice.

        “We want to keep it neutral so people can make a decision on the basis of the idea of having services to God,” he said.

        “We are people who love Jesus, if that's a concern for them.”

        Mr. Shamma said they would keep the house and use it for a pastor's residence.

        In a letter given to her neighbors, Plantation Pointe resident Pam Brooks wrote that when she moved from Cincinnati in 1997, she quickly fell in love with the neighborhood's white picket fences and small pond.

        “We have worked hard to build a community with a particular character, which is important to us, and one of the many reasons we purchased our homes in this development. Please don't allow this character to be destroyed,” she wrote.

        Other residents expressed similar concerns.

        “This should remain residential,” said Brian Rickert, a 30-year-old father of two. “A lot of people built in our development because of the green space that's out front.”

        The meeting has been rescheduled for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at Florence Elementary School, 103 Center St.


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