Published: 03/22/2006 5:34 PM
By: Frank Gluck - The Gazette
NORTH LIBERTY, IA - An organization planning a Muslim youth camp on the shores of Coralville Lake has signed a lease of up to 25 years with the federal government, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced this afternoon.Muslim Youth Camps of America (MYCA) now has full rights to be on the land and, once it works out details with county and state regulators, can begin building at any time.The organization has up to five years to begin building before the Corps of Engineers would reconsider the lease. If, after five years, MYCA shows it is progressing in a "satisfactory" fashion, a 20-year lease would be offered.Plans for the $934,000 facility call for lodging up to 60 campers ages 10 to 17 -- 40 in cabins and 20 in tents -- plus staffers during summer, and up to 40 per night in the off-season.The proposal has been a controversial one. Many neighbors have complained that the development would overwhelm the rural Johnson County roads leading to the facility and that the proposed buildings would mar the scenic nature of the spot.A minority of other camp opponents have tried to block construction by evoking the specter of terrorism.The plans were downsized from the original proposal, which detailed a $2 million facility for 136 campers. The Corps asked Muslim Youth Camps of America in 2003 to cut that scale in half after concerns about safety that neighbors raised.The Johnson County Supervisors had given their informal approval, without needing to vote, in late December for the lease agreement.County planning officials said the camp's operators had adhered to restrictions the county imposed, dealing with the county's planning and zoning, building code, public health and engineering departments.
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