Council rejects mosque proposal
By Andrew Bell
Published in News on March 6, 2007 1:57 PM
Goldsboro City Council unanimously voted Monday night to not allow the construction of a mosque in the northern part of the city.
All six councilmen and Mayor Al King agreed with the planning commission's recommendation that the building plan was too large for the proposed site off Wayne Memorial Drive and the facility would not provide the required number of parking spaces.
Dr. Waheed Akhtar asked City Council last month to rezone his property on the southeast corner of Best Avenue and Wayne Memorial Drive to allow for the construction of a mosque. Akhtar said the building was necessary because he and other Wayne County Muslims have to travel to Greenville or Raleigh to worship.
The plans called for a 2,050-square-foot facility that would only be open for a few hours on Fridays and Sundays to prevent traffic congestion along Wayne Memorial Drive.
During a public hearing on Feb. 19, some of those opposed to the mosque did cite traffic concerns, but others simply did not want a mosque in their neighborhood.
King said neither he nor the council made their decision based on any personal beliefs.
"No one has anything against a mosque or any religion," he said.
Instead, the planning commission's recommendation focused on the scope of the site plans compared to the amount of available land.
The commission decided during its Feb. 26 meeting that the proposed site is not large enough to support the facility's parking needs. The site plans requested 13 parking spaces, but the city requires 31 spaces for a building of this size.
Also, Wayne Memorial Drive is expected to be widened in the next several years so the road can feed into the proposed U.S. 70 Bypass north of the city. The project would more than double the road's existing right-of-way, which would further limit the amount of land available for construction.
Following a short presentation by Assistant City Planner James Rowe, council unanimously denied the rezoning request.
After the meeting, all of the councilmen agreed that they were not opposed to a mosque, but said that the plans for the structure were not acceptable.
"The size wasn't right, and it didn't fit the neighborhood," Councilman Jackie Warrick said.
Councilman Bob Waller also said the "size was not appropriate," but added that the council would approve the construction of a mosque if it was planned on sufficient land.
Rowe said Akhtar cannot submit another rezoning proposal for another six months. If he does, King said he hopes the new proposal can be approved by the council.
"I hope they find a suitable site. If they do, I believe we will approve it," he said.
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