I have not had time to weigh in on the mosque debate currently being discussed all over cable news. Fundamentally, this should be a non-issue from a legal perspective, as the property under consideration appears to have little to no substantial value as a landmark. If the Landmark’s Commission chose to landmark this property it would undermine the nature of landmarks protection in New York City, and continue the unfortunate trend of using landmarks to deal with unrelated concerns.
From a policy perspective, a country dedicated to religious freedom cannot really pretend that Islam is not a religion and does not deserve the same protections as Christianity or Judaism. Federal Law also protects religious institutions from land use decisions in a large number of instances. Therefore, I hate to admit it, but Mayor Bloomberg is right about this.
Now, the whole debate depends on saying that this mosque is at Ground Zero, but this falls apart when you look at a map. The mosque is two blocks from Ground Zero, and really does not in any way feel connected to the site. Personally, I am much more appalled at the fact that the City and State are building shopping malls on hallowed ground than a mosque replacing a Burlington Coat Factory a few blocks away.