A five-hour Bayonne zoning board meeting on converting a 23,000 square foot facility on East 24th Street into a Muslim community center/mosque had approximately 500 people gathered at Nicholas Oresko School – but the board ultimately could not make a decision.
William Finnerty, the attorney of the Bayonne Muslims Community provided a presentation that explained how the applicant is seeking a variance for only 36 parking spaces, different from last year’s proposed 78 spaces.
The variance reflected the lowered number of prayer mats per service by increasing the availability of services a day.
Paul Anderson, an exterior site plan engineer, was the first to testify on behalf of Finnerty’s presentation. Anderson admitted that the location of the facility is within just a few feet of the flood zone.
Joe Wisniewski, a Bayonne resident strongly against the mosque, reminded Anderson on the ambiguity of the number of prayer mats that will be needed when services actually commence at the proposed facility so the number of parking spaces will also change.
Wisniewski also referred to the mats as “floor mats” but was later corrected by Anderson.
Melanie Flora, also against the mosque, asked the zoning board about the buffer variance between the facility and surrounding homes.
Flora openly declared stated that she would like a buffer between her backyard and the fence so she wouldn’t have to hear “chit chatter” in her backyard.
Next to testify was John Staiger, the traffic engineer.
Staiger’s testimony received the most heckling especially when he spoke about Avenue F and its 55 free parking spots on off peak hours.
While the same five or six people asked the engineers questions, it seemed that the major concerns were over traffic, parking and the increase of such especially with the other neighborhood developments on nearby surrounding dead end streets.
The vote was delayed once again as the zoning board is still waiting to hear from one more expert testify on Finnerty’s presentation, leaving many residents disappointed since the matter remains unresolved.
A statement sent from Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis’ office further explained the delay on the vote.
“No decision was made last night due to the meeting’s duration, which extended into the later evening hours. The parties involved are currently in the process of scheduling the continuation of the application in the weeks to come.”