Permit Confusion Worries Vacaville Islamic Center Members

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VACAVILLE -- A confusing permit situation left members of the only mosque in Vacaville thinking they would have to abandon their current worship home inside of a local residence.

"It was really shocking and devastating for us because it's the month of Ramadan, sacred month of Ramadan. It's special for the Muslim fasting every day and having prayer services at nighttime," explained Samim Ansary, who is a board member for the Vacaville Islamic Center.

It appears a misunderstanding of an investigation into a code enforcement complaint led Islamic Center members to believe they were being shut down. Members thought they didn't have the right permit and their application for one was being denied.

Vacaville Fire Chief Kris Concepcion's civilian staff works on such code enforcement permit issues with staff from the city's Community Development Department.

"No permit has been applied for and therefore no permit has been denied," Concepcion told FOX40.

Mosque members were under the impression their facility's limited parking was what put them on the city's radar after 19 years in operation.

"They said there's no proper parking here even we are in the downtown district, which businesses they do not required to have parking," Ansary said.

According to Chief Concepcion, that's not true. Within the last two months, a resident filed a complaint about a possibly illegal place of worship.

"He was just concerned that they were using it as a place of business when it was supposed to be a residence," he said.

He also said that after first meeting with mosque leadership shortly after the complaint, they told them worship services could continue without interruption if someone lived on the property.

"At no point did we try to shut anything down. At no point did we ask them to stop," the fire chief said. "They actually presented us, I'm not sure how long ago, but recently presented us with a lease agreement for a tenant that was using that property as a residence."

That made the issue case closed for the city, according to Concepcion, who also said the complainant was informed the mosque was not in violation of any city ordinance.

After speaking with the fire chief Wednesday night, FOX40 obtained documents sent to mosque leaders informing them in January of a lacking business permit and then a permit denial letter from February.

It's a situation FOX40 will be following up on.

After hosting services for almost 20 years without incident or permit demand, Ansary and other mosque leaders fear an intolerance of their faith is what's really behind this entire controversy.

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