N.J. mosque controversy: Federal judge allows Muslim house of worship to be built in Bridgewater

A federal judge ruled against enforcing a zoning change brought upon by a central New Jersey township this week, which restricted a mosque from extending its boundaries into a residential territory.

Al Falah Center had fought for years to gain approval for a new mosque in the Jersey township of Bridgewater. On Monday, the township could not validate reasoning as to why the mosque could not be built, leading a judge to grant permission for the expansion of the mosque.

Al Falah claimed that the change to the zoning rules which prevented the mosque development was provoked by anti-Muslim prejudice. However, township residents and officials stated that the zoning change was meant to protect neighborhoods from “traffic, noise, light and degraded air quality”, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.

According to Blogs.wsj.com, Michael A Shipp, U.S. District Judge stated, “The Court finds that the balance of the hardships favors an injunction. Plaintiff continues to suffer the harms outlined under the irreparable injury analysis. Defendant has failed to identify any specific harm that would follow from permitting Plaintiff’s application to proceed.”

The disagreement originally began in 2011 when controversy circulated around the Muslim cultural center and mosque that was designed near the memorial site of the World Trade Center. Only days after Al Falah brought upon their plan to build a mosque and Islamic community center on a once motel area, Tea Party activists and a number of residents came together to express their resistance against the idea. A month later, Bridgewater implemented a law which imposed religious sanctions to expand to main roads.

Peter Zimroth, an attorney representing the mosque stated, “My clients are very pleased that the court ruled that township could not enforce the ordinance that was passed precisely to block this mosque,” said Blogs.wsj.com

New Jersey Newsroom, 3 October 2013

See also “Mosque plan must return to Bridgewater planning board”, MyCentralJersey.com, 2 October 2013