Mosque Architect Responds to Stop-Work Order From City of New Haven

The two minarets from the Turkish-American Religious Foundation mosque tower over the neighboring homes and daycare on Middletown Avenue in New Haven.

Islam requires the minarets, the call to prayer towers, be taller than the dome on the mosque.

“There seems to be a height violation,” City of New Haven Director of Communications Laurence Grotheer said.

That violation prompted the city’s building department to issue a stop work order for any further construction on the unfinished mosque.

“The building on that site has become non-compliant with the permit that was issued for the site,” Grotheer said.

City officials did not discover the dilemma until November after the 81-foot crescent-topped towers from Turkey were erected.

New Haven granted the permit based on a design plan showing the minarets were supposed to be 57 feet," Grotheer said. “The city is working with cooperative owners to resolve the issue and come up with a reasonable solution.”

NBC Connecticut exclusively obtained the response the mosque's architect, John Torello submitted to the city’s building official and zoning enforcement officer Jim Turcio, in which he says he does not believe any violations exist.

"The current situation is the result of an interpretation that fails to recognize the provisions of the zoning regulations that allow the current construction which was reviewed by the Building Inspector at all phases of design and construction for applicability to code and life safety requirements," the letter states.

While some have called the minarets and "eyesore," others say they are not bothered by the towers.

“Never had an issue with it. The neighbors are great people, they’ve been here for years,” Joseph Lopez said.

The mosque is located in the ward that Alderman Gerald Antunes represents.

“We don’t want to violate religious rights, but we still have some laws on the books and they were aware of them,” Atunes said.

Torello said if you average the height of the minarets, the dome and the roof of the building, there is no violation of city code.

For now, the future of the mosque is up in the air.

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