The West Windsor Zoning Board will continue a hearing on the plans by the Institute of Islamic Studies (IIS) to develop a new mosque on Old Trenton Road on Thursday, June 2.
IIS wants to develop 7.17 acres of currently vacant land at 2030 Old Trenton Road into a house of worship. The plans would require a use variance because the property is currently located in the RO-1 zone, which permits research and office uses.
According to the plans submitted, IIS would construct a facility that includes a house of worship, multi-purpose hall, offices, kitchen, adult social area including a kitchen and housing for its spiritual leader, and a health care facility at the site.
The proposed site is near Windsor Center Drive in East Windsor and Dorchester Drive/Dantone Boulevard in West Windsor.
IIS consultants’ comments during the second Zoning Board hearing earlier this month, which require a use variance for constructing the mosque on Old Trenton Road, still did not satisfy the concerns of opponents and some board members, who questioned whether the new mosque would attract more congregants to the area — and thus be a detriment to traffic and other quality of life issues.
IIS officials said they had 120 “attendees,” and estimated that the number would grow to 200 within five years and to 250 anticipated attendees within 10 years. They testified that the number specifies adults, and that the number of children attending “Sunday School,” held on Saturdays, would be a separate number of 125. Those classes, however, would not coincide with religious services held for adults, they said. IIS officials also estimated that about 50 percent of its current attendees come from West Windsor.
Still, residents asked for guarantees from IIS consultants that their projected membership growth would not exceed the estimated increase, but IIS officials could not provide such guarantees. Residents cited another figure used by IIS officials — that 400 Muslims lived in West Windsor and surrounding areas, including Plainsboro and Cranbury. IIS officials said they included that number solely for demographic illustration.
However, they testified that because multiple facilities were located in nearby towns like Hamilton, Lawrence, South Brunswick, and Ewing, and they already had an established membership from the local area, that growth would be limited. Responding to residents who compared the situation to the mosque on Route 1 in South Brunswick, IIS officials said that the Route 1 mosque was the largest mosque in the state, and that the one in West Windsor would not be nearly as prominent.
They also said that the footprint of the building, and the constraints imposed by township ordinance regarding developable land on the site, would make future expansion unlikely.
At the next hearing, the Zoning Board will hear from its own professionals in addition to hearing from the public.