Plans for Islamic Life Center in Carmel spark debate

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CARMEL, Ind. -- A new Islamic Life Center being proposed in Carmel is getting a lot of attention and sparking a huge debate with petitions being filed from both sides.

An empty field currently sits at the corner of 141st Street and Shelbourne Rd. in Carmel. If the Islamic Life Center were to be built there, it would be the first of its kind in Carmel.

These renderings show what the Mosque called the Islamic Life Center would look like.

Jerry Zeher is the president of the Carmel Interfaith Alliance. He wants to encourage residents to be welcoming to the idea of the center in their community.

"These are folks that live here in Carmel, but they want to have their own place of worship. They have about 150 people, so it’s not a large group of people," Zeher said.

Many residents told CBS4 their biggest concern was the potential for increase in traffic.  Zeher said in reality, the only traffic would be during worship times on Fridays from 1 - 2:30 p.m.

"As we have businesses that come in here to Carmel, they want to know that people, maybe if they’re coming from India or another country, that their employees have a different faith tradition, that they will be respected, and valued," Zeher said.

One resident told CBS4 that she wouldn't have purchased her home in the neighborhood near the property if she knew an Islamic center would be built.

Other neighbors said the center wouldn't be their first choice for development, but they will live with it.

Residents are invited to the next public hearing during the city's zoning board meeting on Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. in Monon Center East.

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