Members of local religious groups plead for close of public hearing, approval of mosque

Monday, July 28, 2014

Editor’s Note:  Below are letters sent this month to the Zoning Board of Appeals encouraging its members to vote on Tuesday, July 30 to approve an application first submitted in 2006 by the Upper Westchester Muslim Society to construct a mosque on its eight-acre property on Pinesbridge Road.  Two weeks ago the ZBA found that environmental review for the project was complete.

See Zoning Board finds environmental review for mosque complete, sets public hearing for July 30, NCNOW.org, 7/14/14.

The Rev. Dr. Leigh Pezet, President, Chappaqua Interfaith Council

As president of the Chappaqua Interfaith Council, I strongly beseech you to cease the delays regarding the special use permit application for The Upper Westchester Muslim Society. The Chappaqua Interfaith Council unequivocally supports the approval of the UWMS request to allow the construction of a mosque in our community and we fervently hope that you will make this possible.

Thank you for your consideration concerning this important matter.

Sincerely yours,

The Rev. Dr. Leigh Pezet
Pastor, Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Chappaqua

______________________________________

Rev. Dr. Martha R. Jacobs

The First Congregational Church supports the building of the Mosque by
the Upper Westchester Muslim Society. We are very pleased that the
application for the Mosque is in the final process of approval.

This has already been a lengthy process and we hope that the Zoning Board
will not delay any further, and that July 30 will be the final public
hearing leading to their being granted a special use permit.

Our Muslim brothers and sisters have been a wonderful part of our
community, including participating in the annual Interfaith Thanksgiving
Service and Meal, the Emergency Shelter Partnership and joining with our
Youth to learn more about each other. They have enriched our lives and we
look forward to celebrating with them when their new house of worship is
complete.

Thank you for giving this request your consideration.

Rev. Dr. Martha R. Jacobs, Senior Pastor
On behalf of the First Congregational Church in Chappaqua

______________________________________

Candace Downing, Baha’i

Through the Chappaqua Interfaith Council I have worked with and become friends with many of the members of the Upper Westchester Muslim Society. They have brought much joy to me and to the community through their involvement in the events presented by the Interfaith Council.  I feel that it is only right that they should have a house of worship of their own which suits their needs.  I think it could only add to the community.  These are people who live in our town, attend our schools and serve our community.  They have also given service to the New Castle Community by participating in efforts to assist those who are needy through our support of A-Home and other nonprofit organizations. They are active in school and youth committees.  Their doctors treat patients in the community. Surely they deserve what all other faith groups in our community have available to them. Surely their children deserve a chance to receive a moral and spiritual education in an appropriate environment, which they do not now have. There are issues of justice, fairness and equality of opportunity involved here. The issues which seem to have been holding up the process of approval far too long have been addressed. The time for delay is over.  Surely, after ten years of struggle, requiring time, effort and money on the part of both the town and the Muslim community, it is time to say “OK!”

Candace Downing
39 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco NY   10549
______________________________________

Sara Langbert (Member Chappaqua Friends Meeting)

As a member of Chappaqua Friends Meeting and the Chappaqua
Interfaith council I am writing to implore you to bring to an end the long
and arduous process that the Upper Westchester Muslim Society has been
through in order to obtain a place of worship. Please grant them the
permission they seek for the special use permit at the July 30th hearing.
They have been working on this for over 10 years. It is hard to understand
the delay. Knowing this congregation, I can honestly say that they have more
than proven themselves to be a warm, caring and positive addition to the
community.
Please vote yes this July 30th.

Thank You,

Sara Langbert (Member Chappaqua Friends Meeting)
______________________________________

Nadia Bernstein, member, Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester

I am writing to respectfully urge you to bring the public hearing in this matter to a conclusion with the July 30 hearing, and grant the special use permit sought by the UWMS.  There is no legitimate need to delay these proceedings.  This group should be warmly welcomed into our community, and their extended hand of friendship should be met by our reciprocating hand. 

Respectfully,

Nadia Bernstein
Member, Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester

______________________________________

Elinor Griffith, member, St. John’s and St. Mary’s

As a member of the Chappaqua Interfaith Council, I am pleased the Upper Westchester Muslim’s Society’s application for its mosque is moving ahead finally.  For nearly 10 years, I have been attending meetings concerning this application. Please stick to the July 30 date, as the remaining the public hearing, and then grant the special use permit. If you’re not familiar with letter sent by the CIC in January 2014 on behalf of the UWMS, it is reattached for your convenience.

A sign of a vibrant, tolerant and caring community is the existence of diverse houses of worship, all working together for a community’s good. This new mosque, we strongly feel, will soon be a real point of pride.

With best regards,

Elinor Griffith
Member, Chappaqua Interfaith Council; member St. John’s and St. Mary’s Catholic Church
______________________________________

Richard Laster, member, Temple Beth El

As a member of the Chappaqua Interfaith Council, I am very pleased to learn that the Upper Westchester Muslim’s Society’s application for its mosque is in the final process of approval.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to attend some of the recent meetings because of a severe fall which has temporarily handicapped my movements.

I urge you to stick to the July 30 date, as the remaining public hearing, and then grant the special use permit.

Chappaqua has always been known as a tolerant and caring community.  We should continue to work together to maintain that reputation and wonderful feeling.

Thank you for giving this request your consideration.

With best regards,

Richard Laster
Member, Chappaqua Interfaith Council; Member Temple Beth El of Northern Westchester; Former Deputy Supervisor of the Town of New Castle; Former President of the Chappaqua Board of Education

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