STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. (WJBK) - The Sterling Heights City Council voted unanimously to approve building a mosque after a heated meeting late Tuesday night. The proposal, which involves the land at 15 Mile and Mound, was rejected in 2015 but two federal lawsuits against the city have forced the council to reconsider.
The city has also agreed to settle those lawsuits, saying it will keep Sterling Heights out of costly litigation.
The vote that happened Tuesday night was expected sooner, but the meeting was interrupted by numerous angry outbursts by some of the more than 250 residents in attendance. A couple people shouted at the councilmembers, calling them "terrorists." Several others had to be escorted out by police.
"If I heard correctly, council, you were talking about spending a million dollars on playground equipment," said one resident during public comment. "And yet there is a legal argument that you don't have the funds to fight against a political ideology whose goal is death to America."
In 2015 the council voted unanimously to reject the plans to build the mosque. And in response, two federal lawsuits were filed, one by the American Islamic Cultural Center and one from the Department of Justice, calling the decision unconstitutional.
The city was advised by its legal counsel that there are not enough resources to fight the two lawsuits.
We're told some neighbors are against the mosque, fearing traffic congestion and noise and a decrease in property value.