The first mosque in Carmel is one step closer to being built after the Court of Appeals of Indiana overturned a Hamilton County Superior Court ruling.
The appeals court ruling, issued March 12, states that the Hamilton County Superior Court erroneously used a law that was repealed in 2011 to extend a deadline for the group that filed the lawsuit asking for a review of the Carmel Board of Zoning Appeal’s decision to allow the Al Salam Foundation to build the Islamic Life Center. With the missed deadline upheld, the lawsuit is invalid, although the most recent ruling could be appealed.
“We believed the trial court ruling was correct but respect the ruling by the court of appeals,” said Michael Andreoli, an attorney representing the group that filed the lawsuit. “A further appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court is likely but no final decision has yet been reached.”
The 3-2 BZA vote to approve plans for the mosque took place in February 2018 in the Palladium in front of a crowd of more than 1,000 people, with many Carmel residents speaking in favor and against it. Approximately two months later, the lawsuit asking for a review of the BZA decision was filed.
“It is such a relief to soon be able to close the book on this saga and begin construction on the Islamic Life Center,” Dr. Nadeem Ikhlaque, president of the Al Salam Foundation, stated in a press release. “All we ever wanted is a place to gather as a community and pray. We are grateful that religious freedom has won the day and we thank all of our friends and neighbors in Carmel who came out in overwhelming numbers to express their love and support for us.”
Much of the opposition to the mosque came from nearby Carmel residents who said the plans were too big for the site and that it did not fit with existing development.
The Al Salam community currently worships in a rented storefront in Indianapolis. For years, its leaders had been searching for a site with more space, finally settling on a 15-acre parcel at 141st Street and Shelborne Road after other options didn’t work out.