The proposed mosque that had some Plymouth residents in hysterics at last week's planning commission meeting has been approved.
The Plymouth City Council voted unanimously to sign off on the mosque's downtown site last night. Perhaps more impressive, the meeting went by without any of the bigoted anti-Islamic voices -- not that they weren't out there.
Mayor Kelli Slavik shrewdly explained that the meeting was to be simply about boring land use issues -- parking, noise, and traffic -- and that no other comments would be allowed, blaming the anti-Islamic speakers who hijacked the planning commission.
There was still an underlying suggestion of the heated, sometimes hated debate, with the mayor and other council members making reference to the volume of e-mails, voicemails, and letters they'd received.
The meeting was nothing like the madness of last week, which inspired one citizen to bring up the September 11 terrorist attacks, "the Shoe Bomber, the Underwear Bomber, the Times Square Bomber," and another to explain that "aiding the enemy is treason."
Slavik tried to explain the limitations on discussion herself, but soon turned it over to city attorney Campbell Knutson, who laid out the terms of the meeting.
"In this case," Knutson explained, "we've already decided in the ordinance that a community center is a permitted use, and a religious institution is also appropriate for this district."
Knutson continued: "In making that decision, the cities have very limited discretion."
After that explanation, the first four people signed up to speak instead called out, "pass."
Those who did had reasonable questions, like John Christianson, an older man who wanted to raise the question of parking spaces, but had no other issues with the mosque.
"We welcome the community center and the group as a neighbor," Christianson said. "We're looking forward to their presence very much."
But there were still allusions to that kind of sentiment. Slavik said she'd received so many e-mails on the issue that her inbox had shut down. At the end of the discussion, councilman Bob Stein thanked the audience for their decorum.
"I want to thank the mayor, the attorney, and the audience for the respect that they had in discussing this issue tonight," Stein said. "It's in vast contrast to the planning commission meeting that we had, and in contrast to the e-mails, and voicemails, and letters that we've received. So I want to welcome the group and I hope that you are good neighbors."
When the discussion wound down, Slavik asked for a roll call vote, and one by one the council members all voted "aye." The roll call reached Slavik.
"Aye," she said, "and that does pass."
"Whoo!" somebody shouted, and the room broke out in applause.