The recent burning of a Koran by a Florida minister and the subsequent killings of UN workers in Afghanistan served as a national news backdrop for some of our readers as they perused last week’s cover stories on the Council for the Advancement of Muslim Professionals and on the efforts of the Institute of Islamic Studies to gain zoning approval for a new mosque and community center in West Windsor.
If our coverage had any common theme, it was that stereotyping is almost never productive. That applies to our coverage of the critics of the new mosque as well. While our sister paper, the West Windsor-Plainsboro News, will report on the Zoning Board hearing this Thursday, April 7, we can offer some insight from several letters to the editor already submitted.
At least two of the critics of the proposed zoning variance state that they are enthusiastic supporters of the mosque, but not at this location. “I welcome the IIS and the range of services it promises to provide to the residents of West Windsor and surrounding communities,” wrote one West Windsor resident. “The good intentions of its members are admirable.
“I am against poor land development planning and deviating from the township master plan,” he continued. “There is plenty of available land elsewhere in the ROR zone for a mosque. The proposed site on Old Trenton Road is zoned for commercial office/research use. Granting the variance weakens our town’s zoning laws.”
But another writer supported the new mosque at the proposed location and added this point: “As to the loss of a tax ratable, this is the case for any religious institution, school, and tax-exempt nonprofit organization. Indeed, such land use applications are considered by New Jersey land use case law to be ‘inherently beneficial’ and are only required to prove they do no harm.”
We will provide a follow-up next week.
On March 9 U.S. 1 ran a feature on Kamal Bathla of Maestro Technologies at 707 Alexander Road. The article, “A Temporary Future,” discussed Maestro’s takeover of Bramha Infotech, an IT firm once operated by Nikki Kedia at the same address.
The article stated that “Maestro and Bramha were connected for years; Kedia was connected to them, as part of a group of partners running the firms.” Bathla says this is untrue. He writes:
“The fact is that Maestro or its owners had never done any business with Bramha Infotech prior to acquisition. No one in Maestro knew of Nikki Kedia prior to November, 2009, when he was introduced to me through a common friend and business broker. Maestro management did not know about the Bramha Infotech’s lawsuit or why the company was up for sale other than making a good business sense for acquisition for Maestro’s progress.”