By a 20-3 vote, the Fraternite of Notre Dame was denied its request for rezoning of its 95 acre property in Coral Township.
The religious group asked permission to build a school, a nursing home, a winery and a brewery.
Opponents objected to the commercial and industrial uses being allowed in their residential area.
After the turn down, the nuns’ attorney, Tom Zanck, outlined several options:
“We have a variety of options.
“We’ll have to consider all of them.
“They’re going to continue their mission.”
“We could adjust the plan and refile,” he said, pointing to Mary McCann’s comments about engineering plans and sewage treatment.
“I think that was a bogus issue.”
I asked about the seeming lack of knowledge on the part of County Board members about the Federal Religious Land Use Protection Act until the last week before the vote.
“I’m totally amazed by the comment,” Zanck replied.
The three voting in favor of the rezoning were
- John Jung
- Nick Provenzano
- Mike Skala
Board Chairman Joe Gottemoller left the room because he handled the original zoning for the property.
All who spoke against the proposal–Carolyn Schofield, Mike Walkup, Chuck Wheeler, Anna May Miller, Mary McCanm and John Hammerand–couched their arguments largely without reference to the neighbors’ opposition.
Public comment was not allowed until after the vote.
Last meeting one nun compared the situation to Herod’s judgment of Christ.
“Are you going to stand with Jesus or Barabbas?”
Don Kopsell left during her talk.
“That Religious Land Use Law may very well come back to bite you, as Mr. [Richard] Kelly warned you.”
One nun wondered if the Board members were “brainwashed or just afraid of losing the 700 votes who signed the petition.
“By voting, ‘No,’ you hinder God’s work,” she continued.
“Shame on you elected representatives.
“It’s God’s work you have blocked.
“You have voted in favor of all the Christian churches, even Buddhist and Muslim.
“How will you be able to sleep tonight thinking you have laid obstacles to God’s will?
“How will you die?
“Certainly not in peace.”
A priest of the order told the Board members that they had pierce the heart of our good Mother, because our work is consecrated to her.”
A neighborhood man talked of separation of church and state.
“I think they don’t get it.
“I don’t support having a commercial and industrial project in a residential area.
“The real issue was land use, not religious freedom.”