The Utica Zoning Board of Appeals has approved a special use permit for an already under-construction mosque at 763 Bleecker Street on Tuesday.

The city's zoning ordinance allows ''churches and other similar places of worship specially permitted uses within the Neighborhood Commercial zoning district'', as noted in the zoning board minutes from Tuesday's meeting.

The vote was 4-0 in favor. Board member Nedzad Smajic did not vote on the proposal as he owns the construction company erecting the structure.

The 40' by 58' structure - to be called the West Bosnian Islamic Center - includes a basement plus two floors, and will have worship hours seven days a week, from 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., with extended hours and special parking arrangements on two annual major holidays.

Sitting city councilman Frank Vescera was critical of the process because Smajic is a member of the city's  zoning board of appeals.  Vescera previously stated on WIBX that as a member of the zoning board, Smajic should have been aware of the zoning laws, and applied for the special use permit prior to beginning the project.

Jeff Monaski, WIBX
Jeff Monaski, WIBX

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