Dozens of residents showed up at Carmel City Hall Jan. 8 to speak against a proposed Islamic Life Center that would be constructed at 141st Street and Shelborne Road.
None of the people who spoke said their opposition had anything to do with the Islamic faith. Instead, residents were concerned that a high traffic structure directly across the street from a residential area would lead to noise pollution and busier roadways.
A Board of Zoning Appeals hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Monon Community Center, meeting room B.
Taft Davis, who lives in neighboring Overbrook Farms, said the center would lead to an increased number of vehicles in the area.
“My concern is mainly the traffic,” he said. “If we had traffic, it’s going to be prohibitive to get out of our neighborhood on foot.”
Neighbors at the meeting said they were concerned about noise from construction and increased traffic. They also expressed concerns about flooding and light from signage.
City Council President Kevin “Woody” Rider said the Carmel City Council was happy to hear concerns but the real authority lies with the BZA.
“It will not will come before us, and it’s not because we don’t want it to. It’s because that’s what state law requires,” he said.
Rider said he can’t lobby the BZA or instruct it what to do.
“I don’t like the process,” he said. “I’m going to get involved and see what I can do, but I can’t make it happen or not happen.”
Rider noted that drainage and lighting would be addressed in an approval process.
Ashhar Madni, vice president for the board of trustees of the Al Salam Foundation, said the Islamic Life Center will be a positive presence in Carmel.
“We think it can make Carmel an even more attractive place to live because it brings diversity and we’ll be doing positive things in the community,” he said. “It could raise people’s property values.”
Madni said there will be plenty of interfaith activities. He said the location was chosen because of its proximity to Michigan Road, which makes it easy for visitors to reach the center.
“I don’t think traffic or noise will be a concern,” he said. “It’s still very early in the process and we’re happy to talk to people about our plans.”