Here is the latest on the Muslim Brotherhood mega-mosque going up on a quiet, residential street in Brooklyn. The battle to maintain the integrity of the residential, tree-lined street in Sheepshead Bay moves forward.
The legal process is lengthy, and the Bay People need funds to carry on the fight. They are prepapred to file an Article 78 proceeding and/or to sue NYC for damages in case of an adverse ruling. Further contributions to the cause can be made online via PayPal (go here) or by sending a check or money order payable to: BayPeople Inc. 1421 Sheepshead Bay Rd. Post Mail Box 288 Brooklyn, New York 11235.
Write to an elected official. Go here for a full list and voice your opposition to the proposed mosque construction. They need our help. If you have questions, you can contact the good folks fighting this battle at firstname.lastname@example.org. And check their website for the latest updates. Join them on Facebook.
"This fight is far from over and we, the homeowners and residents of this community, will employ every possible avenue to ensure that this peaceful and quiet residential street remains just that-RESIDENTIAL."
Elected officials and Community Board 15 have dismissed our quality of life concerns for "political correctness." The proposed construction encroaches on our rights to privacy, health, safety and is an intrusive, unreasonable interference with the use and enjoyment of our properties. Religion cannot and will not be an excuse for zoning violations and inappropriate development. Bay People is a voice for thousands of property owners and residents of Sheepshead Bay who are simply trying to preserve their quiet residential existence, protect their property values, and peace of mind."
ABOVE: BEFORE - 1,200 sq/ft. 2 People AFTER - 8,100 sq/ft. 1,500 people/day,
We are concerned with this project because we anticipate the following problems:
- Both pedestrian and vehicular round the clock heavy traffic because the prayers will be held 5 times a day between 3am and 11pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Heavy traffic congestion. The streets around the proposed project are narrow with just 1 lane of traffic going each way, and congestion will inevitably result from this project, create unsafe conditions and put lives of residents as well as children attending PS 52 in danger. There are no traffic lights, no cross guards, and vehicles attempting to go around double parked cars will have to drive into oncoming traffic.
The building is intended to accommodate hundreds if not thousands of people each day. As per approved plans over 300 people are allowed to occupy that building at once, but not a single parking spot has been allocated to the building. There are no garages, no parking lots, no meters on the streets.
Overcrowding on the sidewalks (sidewalks are narrow with trees – 2 people cannot pass by without bumping into each other)
The prayer times will coincide with morning and evening rush hour, as well as the time when children are being picked up and dropped off at PS52 (located less than a block away)
Loud noise from cars, from calls to prayer which must be loud enough to be heard away from the building and must be done before each prayer
The constant noise will disrupt classes at PS 52
The building is allowed to be taller and bigger than a residential house; it will overshadow houses in its immediate
vicinity and block sunlight, which wouldn't have happened if there was a regular sized home build there instead.
The project will irrevocably change the character of the neighborhood
The project will bring an end to our quiet enjoyment of our property because the house of worship will be opened every
day of the week, bringing in people, pollution, noise, and creating unsafe conditions, endanger lives by blocking
emergency vehicles along Voorhies avenue and the adjacent area.
The project will permanently depress property values in the area
The project is being forced on the neighborhood. Mr. Ahmed purchased the property quietly and without telling any of the neighbors what he was planning to build in place of a single-family home previously occupied by an elderly couple.
DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS (DOB)
In court filings, Muslim American Society (MAS) stated that certain city officials are helping them with this project and told them to stay quiet not to “ruffle any feathers”. Who are these officials and in what capacity are they involved? Is DOB one of the agencies whose officials are asking them to stay quiet not to “ruffle any feathers”?
From the onset of the project, Bay People, Inc. exposed all attempts by the community center builders and owners to circumvent NYC zoning laws and regulations that were designed to protect tranquil residential communities. The size and purpose of this oversized structure will destroy the fabric of a quiet residential community. The presence of this structure will violate all the requirements of the zoning resolution and the Building code of the City of New York.
• The architectural drawings circumvented proper calculations of the occupancy of the facility. The occupancy of the 1st floor is 138 persons and the occupancy of the 2nd floor is 61 persons, for a total capacity of 199 persons. At the rate of 1 space per 15 persons, 13.26 parking spaces (rounded down to 13) must be provided on the zoning lot. However, by not disclosing / hiding the use of the 2nd floor on the zoning diagram and by calculating the occupancy of each floor separately the application incorrectly utilizes the parking waiver provide in zoning resolution 25-33. These drawings didn’t satisfy NYC Building codes, New York City Seismic Code local law 17/95. Men and women are praying at the same time but in separate rooms. This simultaneous use and the fact that these two rooms have common partition with two interior windows create a common “largest room”. The area of these two rooms should be added and should be counted as one ”largest room of assembly”.
The structural, mechanical, electrical and plumbing drawings failed to implement various standards
DOB failed to enforce adjacent building owner’s nonfiction requirement paragraph 27-165 of the New York building
code. Therefore the excavation and foundation permit was issued in error and should have been immediately revoked.
Residents of Sheepshead Bay tried to obtain physical drawings on numerous occasions (at least twelve) and were not
successful in none of them. The reason as articulated by the DOB copy room supervisor was that the copy machine was broken.
Numerous changes and amendments to schedule A (which defines floor occupancy) were filed in order to avoid off-
street parking requirements. Architect keeps revising and resubmitting documents with different occupancy rates listed each time. This strategy confuses and misleads not only the community but DOB as well.
The roof of the building was designed to support crowd of prayers: roof is designed for 100 pounds per square foot. Up to one hundred people now will crowded on the roof (that number is not included in any of the calculations)
Dozens of missing documents and numerous mistakes have not stopped the DOB from signing off on the project.
The project is filed at the DOB as “Place of Worship”. However it is being advertised as a community center which is misleading and would require additional parking
Many violations were never issued.
o Work with expired insurances (For four month the contractor AB design was allowed for work with expired general liability and disability insurances)
o work with expired permits
o Violation for the defective fence were swept under the rug (On May 26, 2011, when complaint of the deficient strength and construction of the fence was logged, the City turned its blind eye again and stated that the fence permit was not expired. This is how the City resolved that complaint).
o To correct excavation violations the drawings for the support of excavation (shoring drawings) were developed but this shoring was never installed. The City was not able and reluctant to enforce its Rules even though every contractor in the City obligated follow these Rules. The Excavation Unit was created to forced reluctant contractors to follow the Rules but nothing was done.
o Mr. Noorata the structural engineer of this project had his filing privileges suspended in 2011. However, he continued to file documents until March of 2011. The Disciplinary actions were taken against him in 2010. The privileged of the performing the special inspections were revoked in 2010. The engineer also lost his professional certification and directive 14 privileges the same year.
o The Class 1 (hazardous) Environmental Control Board (ECB) violation was not resolved and fines were not paid. Numerous ECB violations are still open and fines are not paid. Hearings have been postponed to drag out the time. Violations happen in the beginning of 2011, hearings have been rescheduled from August 2011 to March 2012.
All this was done with direct knowledge and consent of the owners of the lot: Mr. Allowey Ahmed, the lending company 2004-000088, LLC from Virginia, and a future occupant: Muslim American Society (MAS). So far, even in the face of the numerous mistakes, omissions, and plain falsifications associated with the project’s building plans, including mistakes and omissions in the construction work, we are unable to make the DOB follow its own set of policies and procedures in examining the plans and in monitoring the construction work.
Since the DOB approved this application and issued construction permits (October 2010), two full stop work orders, OSHA & 15 ECB violations have been issued (2 of those are listed as Class 1 – Immediately hazardous), over $30,000 in fines have been issued. As of today, DOB has issued permits to 4 different contractors. Every time a violation was issued, the owners terminate that contractor and hire someone else. Once a new permit is issued the contractor may continue work without correcting the violations: so the construction continues despite the fact that none of the problems which caused the issuance of the stop work orders have been corrected. Termination of the contractor does not correct violation. The fee and the correction of violation has to be made or owners goes to the court to argue to reduce fee and to remove violations as this is the case.
CITY OFFICIALS / ELLECTED POLITICIANS
Despite having contacted the local politicians with our concerns regarding traffic and the general effect of the proposed construction on the community, Bay People have been repeatedly ignored. It is particularly disturbing that our pleas for attention have gone unanswered while these politicians themselves expressed concerns with how bad traffic already is in our neighborhood. Bay People are appalled by the lack of concern for the problems of the constituents, and suspect that politicians are afraid and unwilling to be perceived as opposing a religious group, when in fact all we are asking is attention to a quality of life problem.
● Community Board 15 = Ms. Scavo is trying to be politecly correct. At the same time, Teresa Scavo, the Chairperson of CB15 expressed concerns about other construction in the neighborhood, such as the Marshalls Department Store being built on Avenue Y. Her concerns with double-parking and congestion are well-documented in the local papers. CB15 also denied the request of the developer at 1501 Sheepshead Bay Road for a reduction of the required number of parking spaces for a multi- story building due to concerns about congestion. Sheepshead Bay road is a one-lane each way street, very similar to Voorhies Avenue, yet they have no concerns about traffic congestion on Voorhies Avenue. http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2011/08/controversial-development-site-up-for-sale-project-may-be-nixed/
● Steven Cymbrowitz, who was also contacted by and ignored requests from Bay People, had also expressed numerous concerns regarding congestion and traffic in the area. He criticized proposed development at 1501 Sheepshead Bay Road, which, again, was to be located on a street very similar to Voorhies Avenue. Yet he turned a deaf ear to Bay People. http://www.sheepsheadbites.com/2011/08/controversial-development-site-up-for-sale-project-may-be-nixed/
● Michael Nelson was so outraged with traffic congestion in the area that he requested that a part of Voorhies Avenue be made into a one-way street. He himself did not want to sit in traffic on his way to work every day. Yet traffic congestion further down Voorhies Avenue does not seem to bother him – after all, he does not pass it on his way to work. Despite Bay People’s requests for attention to the situation on Voorhies Ave, he refused to get involved even though he clearly agrees that traffic is a problem in the area and was willing to direct resources to address it. Yet he wouldn't do the same for our area. Bay People got a traffic study done with its own funds and it was proven that the proposed construction will create a nightmare for the surrounding area.
● Kruger is under investigation for corruption charges.
● Weiner is out of the pictures because of the way he was presenting himself.
● Fidler sent one letter to DOB on our behalf and gave up without receiving a satisfactory answer.
OTHER CITY OFFICES
DEPARTMENT OF INVESTIGATION (DOI)
When we contacted the DOI regarding the construction, we were told that they do not have the resources to perform an investigation. They suggested that we contact the DOB to arrange for an investigation, recommending that DOB perform the investigation of the DOB, which presents a clear conflict of interest.
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DOT)
DOT permit at the construction site expired on 03.13.11. Since then, the neighborhood residents called in about 10 complaints about trucks blocking road and sidewalks. Complains were sent with pictures and information of trucks that are blocking the street. However, DOT inspectors came on average 2 weeks after each complaint was made, at which point they closed all complaints saying that there are no trucks blocking the road. The latest complaints haven't even been investigated and are marked "past due". What is the point of sending an inspector two weeks after the complaint is made? It’s not reasonable to expect for everyone to remain in place for so long. This creates unsafe conditions for everyone because of the narrow street and causes cars to have to go around into incoming traffic.
We received one letter from the DOT saying that the investigation of the construction site will be performed by July 5th, 2011, but since then there has been no follow up, no results of the investigation have been published, and now new complaints are not even investigated.
BACKERS OF CONSTRUCITON / OWNERS / LAWYERS
Mr. Allowey Ahmed - Bought the property in his name for $800K. Mr. Ahmed indicated that construction of the building will cost about $1 million, and that the funds for purchase of the lot and construction have been donated by neighborhood residents. However, in court Ms. Deek stated that only about 100 families live nearby, which would mean that donations amount to about $20,000 per family. The neighborhood residents are concerned with the true source of funds for this project, as well as lack of transparency and repeated inconsistencies in the information that Mr. Ahmed has shared. Neighborhood residents are also concerned with the ownership of the project. Mr. Ahmed purchased the property at 2812 Voorhies Avenue in his own name, but the construction sign at the property which names the project and contractors lists MAS as the owner. After the neighborhood residents began to voice their opposition to the project, Mr. Ahmed said that he would end his association with the project and turn it over to MAS, which to the best of our knowledge he has not done. On May 12, 2010 he signed PW1:Plan / work application form (DOB form) as the President of the MAS. Residents are concerned with the political connections of MAS, and the source of the funds that paid for this project. He reported his occupation as “unemployed”, has at least 3 properties in Brooklyn and money to build. Mortgage on the property in question was repaid in full. How? MAS is in dept and Mr. Ahmed is unemployed. How can they afford to pay $800k for the first lot and try to buy another one for $600K and still have money for new construction?
MAS (Muslim American Society) - According to various sources, including Anti-Defamation league, the organization behind the project “has a troubling history of associates with radical organizations and individuals that promote terrorism, anti-Semitist and reject Israel’s right to exist”.
Lamis Deek –an attorney hired by Alloway Ahmed, the mosque developer, stood up in court and accused Bay People of being racist, yet she herself is on record multiple times over as an anti-Semite, opposed to the existence of the state of Israel, and even having called for its annihilation. She has defended multiple cases involving anti-Israelis. We do not tolerate hate and violence in our community, be that hate directed at ourselves or others.\
- Video of Lamis Deek, the Lawyer for the Mosque
- The Jihad Lawyer Pamela Geller, American Thinker
Lamis Deek Incites Intifada at the Palestinian "statehood" Protest (video here)
Said and Deek on Palestine and Israel's Right to Exist (video here)
Mohamed Sadeia admitted to collusion with city officials in the SWORN affidavit filed by their lawyer Lamis Deek. Moreover, Mohamed Sadeia goes on to mislead and apparently lie in this court filing. Sadeia claims that he has "personal knowledge" that the owner of 2708 East 28th Street has refused to sell his property to Muslims - but there is no such building number
Proposed construction will be over 8,100 sq.ft. (as per approved plans: cellar = 2,456 sq/ft - will be occupied by 71 people; 1st floor = 2,456 sq/ft – will be occupied by 138 people; 2nd floor = 1,595 sq/ft – will be occupied by 61 people; 3rd floor = 1,595 sq/ft – will be occupied by 39 people).
City Officials Halt Illegal Construction of Mega Mosque on Sheesphead Bay Residential Street (video here)
FLYERS / COMMENTS
Back in August of this year, the mosque builders left flyers in mailboxes around the neighborhood and distributed them at 61st police precinct. The flyers introduced MAS as the organization behind the project, promised to invite everyone to the open house once the mosque is built, and informed the residents that MAS is working with the 61st Precinct to "ensure a smooth transition". The building is still unfinished, the structure is enormous, several times the size of the single-family home that previously occupied the lot. The neighborhood is deeply concerned by what the builders meant as a "transition" in light of the size of the project. Are we expected to transition out of the neighborhood to make room for the worshippers that will flock to this structure on a daily basis? Why is the police involved at this stage in the project, and why did the builders go to the police instead of reaching out to the neighbors? Why didn't MAS come to the neighborhood and introduce themselves and the project prior to the building commencing?
Residents of Sheepshead Bay have constitutional rights to enjoy the property, protect quality of life and DOB ignored all of it when they signed off on a proposed project. This community facility creates an objectionable influence in a residential area. This construction arouses disapproval of local residents because of increased traffic to the area, lack of parking, lowering of our property values, increased noise by auto and pedestrian traffic and an amplified call to prayer 5 times per day. The plan, design, size, and scope of this project is drastically different that surrounding residential homes. Residents voice their objections to unreasonable interference with enjoyment and use of their properties by contacting city official and all of these attempts were ignored. We demand an investigation into the situation and protect our rights and safety. We have a right to know why a project that is clearly unsafe and unsuitable for the area is allowed to continue with no oversight. The welfare of the neighborhood residents is being ignored under the guise of political correctness, when in fact all we are asking is attention to a quality of life problem and our property rights are being trampled upon with no response from elected officials. Thousands of the neighborhood residents view this construction for what it is: a DOB assisted manipulation of zoning laws and building codes by the developer who is trying to squeeze an enormous structure in a quiet residential block. Residents are concerned that once completed, the increase in foot and vehicular traffic and inevitable traffic congestion, combined with five daily calls to prayer (start as early as 3AM and continue until 11PM) will destroy the quiet neighborhood as well as the property value of their homes. The structure will be able to accommodate up to 1,500 people daily, yet not a single parking spot has been allocated for it due to continuous changes and clever manipulation of the number of attendees in the building plans submitted to the DOB. Bay People, Inc. collected more than a thousand of signatures from neighborhood residents who oppose construction under its current design and location. Members of the community, including Bay People, have been accused of Islamophobia, bigotry, racial intolerance, while all we are trying to do is to defend our rights. We are not opposed to anyone exercising their right to freely practice their religion. We are, however, opposed to a construction project that is putting our lives and the lives of our children in danger. This is an ill-conceived structure that is being built in the wrong place, a place that is too small to accommodate the grandiose plans of the developers. Voorhies Avenue is a small, two-lane street, that cannot handle the increase in traffic and has no space for parking of all the additional vehicles that will come to the neighborhood once the project is completed. The DOB so far refused public access to building plans and has been turning a blind eye to all the inconsistencies, fines, and manipulation of figures that have been going on.
The main purpose of the parking regulations was to minimize traffic and traffic congestion in the area. However, all congregants will come to the house at the same time for the same purpose. The total number will be 292 as Lamis Deek stated during BSA hearing. The main floor is assigned for men and the second floor is assigned for women. Due to this segregation of men and women only number of occupants (men) on the main floor went in to calculation for the parking. The women congregates were not accounted. Thus the number of the occupants that come to the house of worship at the same time for the same purpose (maximum simultaneous occupancy) is significantly reduced.
The present waiver was written for the Locally Oriented Houses of Worship. The Locally Oriented Houses of Worship as stated in the Zoning Law ZR 25-33 can get waiver when with congregation of less than 150 people: 10 spots x 15 cars per one person. During hearing Lamis Deek stated that there will be 292 persons in the mosque. So the 2812 Voorhies is too big for a local house of worship.
Look at what people have to go through.
This is the fight. It's our fight.
Help the Bay People.