The Santa Clara County planning commission will hear three appeals to the Cordoba Center mosque project in San Martin Tuesday.
The public hearing on the appeals will not begin before 1:30 p.m., and will take place at the board of supervisors chambers, 70 West Hedding St. in San Jose.
Almost as soon as the planning commission approved the application for a use permit for the project proposed by the South Valley Islamic Community last month, three parties including the SVIC appealed the decision.
The SVIC said they are appealing the commission’s decision in favor of the project they originally proposed last year, according to SVIC spokesman Hamdy Abbass.
Approved was a project consisting of two buildings - a 5,000-square-foot prayer hall and a 2,800-square-foot multi-purpose building. Future plans for the site also include a cemetery.
The project is proposed on a 15-acre site on Monterey Road, just north of the intersection of California Avenue in the unincorporated town of San Martin.
Abbass said the SVIC takes issue with the crowd restrictions placed on the project by the planning commission. Those include allowing larger gatherings of up to 80 people only four times a year.
The SVIC doesn’t know where the county came up with that number, and is appealing to allow up to 150 people at any time, the appeal letter said.
Plus, the SVIC wants to increase the size of the multi-purpose hall to 5,000 square feet, as their original proposal requested, Abbass said.
The restrictions approved by the commission could have the effect of impinging on the SVIC’s constitutional right to religious freedom, Abbass said. Plus they would prevent the SVIC from having community or inter-faith events.
The group has gained legal assistance from a Bay Area attorney and constitutional scholar from the firm O’Melveny & Myers, Abbass said.
“We want to be treated like any other church, without limitation, given the same right to practice,” Abbass said.
The Cordoba Center has been mired in controversy and opposition since this summer, when county planning advisory committees held public hearings about the project.
Opponents to the project are concerned about the Cordoba Center’s possible impact on groundwater in the area, traffic, noise and related complaints.
Some residents have even cited their fear of the Muslim religion as a reason to reject the project.
Two other appeals filed by South County residents will also be heard Tuesday.
The San Martin Neighborhood Alliance appealed the project, claiming it is in violation of general plan and county guidelines requiring “local serving” uses in the area it is proposed, plus a number of violations of land use guidelines.
A group calling itself the People’s Coalition for Government Accountability also appealed the use permit, citing similar violations of county guidelines.
Environmental studies conducted by county staff and consultants showed the proposed project would have no adverse effect on groundwater, storm runoff, traffic, noise, or biological resources.
The planning commission’s Aug. 2 approval granted the project a use permit, architecture and site approval and grading approval.
Regardless of what the final use permit looks like after the appeal process, the SVIC still has to acquire a number of permits before construction can begin. The proposed cemetery will require more permits as well.