Let us support Islamic Center

To the Editor,

I write in support of the Cordoba Center project initiated by the South Valley Islamic Community (SVIC) to provide a mosque for worship and related spiritual services, a cemetery, a separate community building for social and educational activities, and a caretaker’s dwelling and a maintenance building. The right to build, buy, or lease a place to assemble for worship is an indispensable part of religious freedom. Religious groups simply cannot exercise their faiths without facilities adequate for their needs.

Santa Clara County released the comprehensive draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Cordoba Center project. A summary of issues raised by commenters during the draft EIR preparation included: adequate access to infrastructure, including sewer and water; increased traffic; local drainage and flooding; effects of the proposed cemetery on groundwater quality; land use compatibility; the combined effects of the proposed project and the proposed Patel RV Park (which is adjacent to the proposed Cordoba Center project site). The draft EIR report concluded that these issues would have “less than significant impact with mitigation.”

I reside in Gilroy, am a member of Advent Lutheran Church in Morgan Hill, and am active in the Interfaith Community of South County (ICSC). The nearly 20 faith communities who participate in the ICSC are committed to creating compassionate communities through social, service, and educational programs. The ICSC is open to all faiths and denominations.

I expect that the Cordoba Center project will receive the same consideration as proposed building plans from any other religious community. I expect the Cordoba Center project will be evaluated according to existing laws and regulations including the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) that was passed by Congress to prevent municipalities from using zoning or land-use rules that were “unjustifiably burdensome” on a specific religion.

Ed Merrell