Planning or Prejudice?
Nahlawi is a board member of the Michigan Islamic Academy, located on Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor. MIA hopes to build a new school at the corner of Ellsworth and Golfside. But Pittsfield Township denied the needed rezoning--so MIA and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) are suing the township in federal court.
Brothers Mohammad and Said Issa put together a group that bought the 26.7-acre property in foreclosure in 2010, and then donated it to the academy. Board member Nahlawi says they were "absolutely clear" with the township. "Before buying the property, we met with them [township officials] and explained our intentions. We wanted to build a school, and then a community center in a few years. And we asked them, 'What do we need to do, is there anything we need to do?'
"We talked to their legal counsel to find out what we had to do to get the rezoning [for the property]," Nahlawi continues. "They said if we meet all the requirements, then fine. We said, 'If there are any issues--traffic, anything you can think of--tell us, and we'll go somewhere else.'
"We met or exceeded the requirements. Whatever they wanted, we'd do. We moved the school from the back of the property to the front. We changed the lighting. We did an extended traffic study ... We deserve to go there, and we need to know the reasons why they won't let us."