1. Modifications may be in order, but based on planning standards
The proposal to build an Islamic Center in San Martin is, by its nature, going to be controversial. That makes it even more important for anyone interested in the outcome to keep a level head.
It demands that the project be judged on its merits, not its religious affiliation. It also means that the project should undergo full scrutiny and could be subject to modification. That’s why there’s a planning process in place. Modifications could range from traffic engineering demands to hours of operation to design standards to limiting the number of people at events. It’s similar in many respects to the process that’s been going on with South County’s wineries.
Three meetings are scheduled (see the accompanying box for times, dates and locations) in quite compact fashion, and that’s the time for the public to comment.
2. Federal law forbids discrimination based on religious affiliation
What’s clear at this point is that the proposed use is allowable under the county’s current zoning and that discrimination is not allowed, obviously, for religious reasons. Santa Clara County District 1 Supervisor Mike Wasserman, who represents San Martin and the entire South County area, has not taken a formal position on the matter other than to reiterate the two basics we just mentioned.
That’s as it should be. Wasserman is a level-headed thinker who carefully forms positions and is rightfully studying the issues and waiting for the process to play out.
Arguments against the Cordoba Center have been floated. There’s one about the use not just serving San Martin residents and another that claims a cemetery would cause groundwater contamination. Neither holds water. There are certainly regional serving businesses in San Martin. Tractors are sold, there’s a golf resort and a market that attracts patrons from a fairly wide region.
3. San Martin residents should take an active role in scrutiny
On the second matter, a report from the Central Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board concludes, “Based on the information submitted to date, Central Coast Water Board staff has determined that the proposed cemetery and wastewater disposal system for the Cordoba Center project does not pose a threat to water quality if properly installed and operated.”
San Martin residents should take an active role in scrutinizing plans and discussing issues publicly. That’s how it works in America.
What also works in America is religious freedom. That should be kept in mind as this project goes through the planning process and attempts to become part of the hamlet of San Martin.
• San Martin Planning Advisory Committee meeting: Tuesday, July 31, 7 p.m. at the Morgan Hill Grange Hall, 40 E 4th St. Morgan Hill
• South Count Joint Planning Commission: Wednesday, Aug. 1, 7 p.m., Morgan Hill Community Center, Hiram Morgan Hill Room, 17000 Monterey St., Morgan Hill
• Santa Clara County Planning Commission meeting: Thursday, Aug. 2, 1:30 p.m., Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors Chambers, 1st Floor, County Government Center, 70 West Hedding St., San Jose