Lino Lakes City Council votes to back 1-year development moratorium, halting Muslim-oriented project

a rendering of a mosque
A rendering of the mosque that is part of the proposed Madinah Lakes development in Lino Lakes.
Courtesy of Faraaz Yussuf

The Lino Lakes City Council voted 4-1 on Monday to move forward with a moratorium that would halt development in the Northwest quadrant of the city, including a Muslim-oriented project that has divided the city and its residents over the past few months.

The 156-acre development project dubbed Madinah Lakes would include 434 units of housing, businesses and a mosque on the site of an old sod farm. Since the project was announced to the public, hundreds of people have swarmed City Hall in support and in opposition of the project. 

A second and final reading of the moratorium is set for July 8. If it passes, the moratorium will take effect in August. 

Opponents of the development have concerns about residential density and argue that the development would put too much stress on local infrastructure.

“Build the mosque, just a mosque on that land. I’d be so excited I’ll make a donation to your cause,” said resident Jason Sonnek, who spoke at a city meeting last month. “Our fear is not of Muslims, it’s of over-building and excess population density that will destroy the character of the community we love.”

Those backing the project say opposition to the project is linked to Islamophobia. 

“This moratorium, we believe, clearly, is based on the fact of the developer building a mosque,” said CAIR-MN Executive Director Jaylani Hussein, who spoke at Monday’s meeting. 

The moratorium would pause any development in that area of the city for one year. City officials say they want to use that time to create a master plan for that area. 

Faraaz Yussuf, the owner of the company proposing the development, said he won’t abandon the plans.

“I will be standing here at the end of this moratorium not by forcing anyone’s hand, Mr. Mayor and Council,” said Yussuf, who also spoke during Monday’s meeting. “But by rolling my sleeves up and working with this great city to find the best solution for this development plan and this area that preserves its unique character.”