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Group: Justice Dept. To Investigate After Muslim Community Center Blocked In Bayonne

BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- The Justice Department has signaled it will investigate after a plan to build a mosque in an old warehouse in Bayonne, N.J. was defeated in a vote last week.

Bayonne's zoning board blocked a proposal to build a $1.6 million, 23,000 square-foot mosque and community center in the city's East End neighborhood following a raucous meeting on Monday.

The board voted 4-3 in favor of the proposal, which needed a minimum of five affirmative votes in order to pass. Those who voted against it cited parking and traffic concerns.

Bayonne Muslims, the group behind the plan, said the Justice Department has contacted them in regard to the matter, WCBS 880's Myles Miller reported. 

The Department of Justice investigates claims of discrimination involving houses of worship.

One resident, who asked not to be identified, told CBS2 most of his neighbors have campaigned to stop the Muslim community center by passing out flyers, saying "… each Muslim is attempting to follow and obey their book's rules, which is to kill, and destroy, and to take over the homes of those who are not Muslim."

Over the last few years, the Justice Department has sued cities around the country denying permits to build mosques, citing religious discrimination under the guise of zoning rules. Seven out of the last eight lawsuits brought to the Justice Department involved mosques or Islamic schools.

The nonprofit Bayonne Muslims group has been trying since 2015 to open the center, which would include prayer halls, a soup kitchen and classrooms.

The current center is located in the basement of an elementary school.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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