Proposed Islamic Center in the Town of New Castle

building_plans

 

Why does UWMS need an Islamic Center?

UWMS has outgrown our current rented, temporary location. We need a permanent, local location to provide services for children and families, as well as the broader community, similar to churches and synagogues established by other faith groups. UWMS wishes to provide the same types of activities as these establishments, including religious services, a weekend school, social and recreational activities, community assistance programs, and interfaith activities.

 

What will the center be used for?

Daily and weekly congregational prayers

Weekend Islamic school for children (e.g., similar to Church Sunday schools)

Educational seminars, adult and youth discussion groups on religious topics, outreach, and social gatherings

Interfaith meetings

Ramadan activities, including meals to break the daily fast, and nightly prayers during the month

Religious services such as weddings, newborn celebrations, funeral prayers

Muslim holiday (Eid) celebrations twice per year involving a morning congregational prayer followed by a short sermon.

 

What are the facilities in the center?

Planned facilities are similar to most other houses of worship in the Town.

Prayer hall for congregational prayers

Classrooms for weekend Islamic school for children

Multi-purpose hall for religious, educational, and social activities

Meeting rooms, office space, and library

Children’s play area and modest outdoor play area

 

Location of the center

The UWMS Islamic Center location was chosen based on a number of criteria, including ease of access, proximity to much of our membership, size of the lot, etc. The design of the center takes into account the residential location with considerations for building height, topography, and aesthetic appeal. Hence, UWMS believes the center will be an appealing addition to the neighborhood, just as other houses of worship have added value in their respective neighborhoods. Town codes allow for religious institutions to be located in residentially zoned areas with a special use permit, and many major religious centers belonging to other faith groups are similarly situated, particularly in the Town of New Castle.

 

A brief history of the UWMS Islamic Center project

UWMS originated from a local congregation that rented a church facility in Briarcliff from 1987 to 1997 for its Friday prayer services.
In 1997, founding members registered UWMS as a not-for-profit religious organization and rented a facility in Pleasantville. In 1999, UWMS moved to a rental space in Thornwood, and has been in this location for the past 12 years, gradually outgrowing the capacity of this space for religious, social, and educational services for our members. In 2001, UWMS board decided to build a facility that could provide services, such as a weekend school, library, conference rooms, youth center, cafeteria, and a prayer area as the essential element of the center. In response to a growing community, and demand for further services, UWMS began to look for a bigger, permanent home where our community’s needs could be met.
After an extensive search for a suitable property, in July 2004, UWMS acquired the 8.3 acre property in the Town of New Castle at 130 Pines Bridge Road with the intention of establishing the Islamic Center at this location.

 

Project progress from July 2004 through today

  • Prior to purchasing the property, members of UWMS met with Town of New Castle officials and sought their informal opinion about the purchase and the intended use for the Islamic Center. We were advised of the process to obtain a Special Use Permit for the intended use as a house of worship and religious facility.
  • Prior to purchasing the property, members of UWMS met with Town of New Castle officials and sought their informal opinion about the purchase and the intended use for the Islamic Center. We were advised of the process to obtain a Special Use Permit for the intended use as a house of worship and religious facility.

 

  • UWMS mailed letters to neighbors living adjacent to the property and met with them personally to apprise them of our purchase of the property and the intended use. We welcomed their comments and feedback.

 

  • In 2005, UWMS retained highly reputed local firms to develop and submit plans for the Islamic Center to the Town.

 

  • UWMS formally submitted its plans to the Town of New Castle in April 2006.

 

  • In November 2006, the Zoning Board decided to ask UWMS to prepare an Environment Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS includes a traffic study, wetlands impacts, cultural and visual impacts, storm water runoff impact, archeological findings, noise impact, etc.

 

  • Since 2009, UWMS had been working to secure approval of the draft EIS (DEIS) so that we could then move to the final EIS document, followed by submission of our construction plans for approval.

 

  • In June 2012, the Zoning Board of Appeals voted to approve the DEIS as complete to be followed by public hearings.

 

  • Two public hearings were held to collect comments on the DEIS on June 25th and July 27th, 2012.

 

  • UWMS prepared the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) which was submitted in August of 2013.

 

  • After several rounds of Town comments and Public Hearings the FEIS was deemed complete and accepted in September of 2014 by the Town Zoning Board.

 

  • A findings statement was prepared by the Town Zoning Board in October of 2014.

 

  • In November of 2014 The Town Zoning Board unanimously approved a Special Permit for the UWMS Masjid and Community Center Project.

 

  • In June of 2015 UWMS resubmitted its application for Wetlands, Tree removal, Steep slope and Lot merger permits to the Town Planning Board.

 

  • After public hearings and several rounds of Town comments, the site plan and landscaping plan for the project was revised and resubmitted to the Town Planning board.

 

  • In February of 2016 the Town Planning Board unanimously approved the Wetlands, Steep slope, and Lot merger permits for the Project.

 

  • UWMS is currently working with its design team lead by KGD Architects, on detailed construction documents for the project which, when completed will be submitted to the Town for a Building permit.

 

Professional consultants:

 

John Meyer Consulting (Site planning)

JMC is a firm of more than 40 professionals providing site design and permitting services for land development projects throughout the country. They have extensive experience in Weschtester County, including houses of worship and educational institutions.

KG&D Architects (Architectural design)

Based in Mount Kisco, KG&D is a mid-sized firm of approximately 30 licensed architects, professional engineers, interior designers, construction inspectors and support personnel. KG&D has experience in design and architecture for many types of facilities, including churches and synagogues in Westchester.
 
Zarin and Steinmetz (Legal counsel)
Zarin & Steinmetz is a highly experienced legal firm with specialization in zoning and land use. They regularly represent clients before municipal planning boards, zoning boards of appeal, legislative bodies, and various state and federal agencies in connection with obtaining approvals for all aspects of land development.