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Photo: Rudy Herman/Flickr Photo: Rudy Herman/Flickr  

Tenn. judge halts mosque construction

A judge put a stop to the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. on Tuesday, ruling that the county government did not give the public adequate notice of the plans, according to News Channel 5.

The first phase of the mosque’s construction was scheduled to be complete in July.

In the ruling, Chancellor Robert Corlew said that the plans approved by the county are “void and of no effect.”

“After consideration of the law and the evidence presented, the court finds that the action of the county was not sufficient to provide the type of notice to citizens of the county that such matters were to be presented at the meeting of the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission which should be expected under law,” the ruling stated.

Planning commissioners approved the plans two years ago, on May 24, for a 52,960 sq. ft. building, after a four-day public trial in April.

According to News Channel 5, attorneys whose clients sued the county say that not everyone who was interested was able to attend the trial because they didn’t know about it.

Under Tennessee law, adequate notice must be given for all public meetings, but the law lacks a clear definition of “adequate.”

The county attorneys argued adequate notice was given, as the meeting in which the mosque was approved was advertised in the legal section of the Sunday edition of the free local newspaper, the Murfreesboro Post, as well as the newspaper’s website.

The ad was “in relatively small type near the bottom of a page which contained a number of advertisements and legal notices, most of which were provided by the city of Murfreesboro,” the ruling stated, according to News Channel 5.

The Murfreesboro Post distributes about 13,000 papers to residents’ driveways and another 8,000 throughout the city.

The ruling did not determine whether the Murfreesboro Post is a newspaper of general circulation, but stated the county could have advertised the meeting on county-operated cable television and did not.

The Rutherford County Planning Commission may reconsider and approve the plans again, as long as the public is given adequate notice.

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