DANVILLE — Hendricks County Commissioners Tuesday rejected a proposed Islamic development on land near Ronald Reagan Parkway and Interstate 74, just outside Brownsburg. A Muslim organization quickly labeled the decision "an act of bigotry."
The vote was 3-0 and followed a 4-3 vote in favor of the plan by the Hendricks County Area Plan Commission in January.
The development, on a former golf course, was to be called Clermont Village and would have included an Islamic Seminary, other religious facilities, housing, a K-12 school and a community center.
But the county commissioners said the site wasn't adequate for such a large development. The organization Muslim Advocates quickly condemned the decision. Here is part of the organization's statement:
The commissioners claimed that their denial was due to concerns about existing drainage problems, insinuating that Clermont Village would make existing drainage problems worse. At a January 12 Clermont Village public hearing, Hendricks County Plan Commissioner President Brad Whicker clearly stated that stormwater was not to be considered at the rezoning stage.
This denial also overrules the plan commission's recommendation that the county move ahead with Clermont Village, a development that has been subjected to a bigoted online campaign rife rife with claims that the project is “evil,” will bring “Sharia law” and will have an “underground bunkers and ammo/weapons room.”
“Today’s vote to deny Clermont Village’s rezoning application is inexplicable, other than as an act of bigotry," said Matt Callahan, senior staff attorney for Muslim Advocates. The county commission rejected the recommendation of its own plan commission to approve this project. Hendricks County is opening itself up to an expensive and unnecessary religious discrimination lawsuit."
"The evidence shows that Hendricks County is holding this project, which includes prayer rooms and a Muslim seminary, to a different standard than other projects—all against the backdrop of a nasty, anti-Muslim campaign. The county is discriminating against Muslims, showing hostility to freedom of worship and could pay a hefty financial price for it," said Callahan.
In January, more than 700 people signed a petition against the project, citing concerns about the land, traffic, and more.
"This property is an agricultural land, and the people that live adjacent to it live there for that reason," the petition read. "It shouldn't and can't be rezoned for residential because of flood, sewer, and water concerns. Also the environment impact as well as traffic impact it would have on the local community. Brownsburg has many sufficient schools and there is no reason for a private community to build their own school. This land should not be developed."
Hendricks County is no stranger to the Muslim faith. The Islamic Society of North America is headquartered in Plainfield.