Religions and Spirituality

Bernards Special Meeting for Considering Mosque Case Settlement to Be Rescheduled in May

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BERNARDS TWP., NJ - A special meeting of the Bernards Township Committee, which had been scheduled, and then canceled, to discuss a possible settlement of pending cases regarding plans to build a mosque in Liberty Corner, will be rescheduled in May if the Township Committee has its way, according to a Tuesday afternoon announcement.

Michael P. Turner, a public relations specialist hired by Bernards Township for representation in the case, issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying, "The special meeting of the Bernards Township Committee, scheduled for Friday, April 21 was postponed because there was not enough time to adequately notify the public as required by law. It is currently the intention of the Township Committee to reschedule this meeting in May.”  

The special April 21 afternoon meeting at which the Bernards Township Committee was to consider and possibly approve a legal settlement in federal cases stemming from the Bernards Planning Board's rejection of the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge's plans for the mosque had been called off just a few hours before it was to be held.

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The cancellation notice sent out by the township clerk's office said the special meeting is "due to be rescheduled."

A few days earlier, Bernards Township Mayor Carolyn Gaziano said she was "optimistic" that the Township Committee might approve a settlement agreement with the ISBR, as well as federal officials, in lawsuits alleging the township Planning Board's rejection of plans for a mosque in Liberty Corner was based on religious discrimination.

The pending cases against the township were filed in 2016 by the Islamic Society of Basking Ridge in federal court, with a later case filed by the U.S. Department of Justice. Plans for the mosque at 124 Church Street were filed with the 

The township's representatives have been meeting with the mosque representatives recently. "We have been working through all of the issues," Gaziano said on April 19.

This past New Year's Eve, a federal judge ruled that the Bernards Township Planning Board acted improperly when it demanded a higher number of parking spaces for a proposed mosque in Liberty Corner than the number of parking spaces that would have been required for a church. 

Township officials have asserted that the Bernards Planning Board's rejection in late 2015 of a proposal to build a 4,250-square-foot mosque on Church Street was based on land use issues.

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