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Georgia County Commissioners Commit to Lifting Moratorium on Houses of Worship

CAIR logoMosque to engage in more community outreach before pursuing construction

Newton County Commissioners, Masjid At-Taqwa, CAIR-Georgia release joint statement

(ATLANTA, GA, 8/31/16) - The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA) today thanked a majority of Newton County commissioners for publicly committing to lift a moratorium on houses of worship during their next meeting on September 13, when the county expects to consider recommended updates to its zoning ordinances.

For Background, SEE: CAIR-GA, Georgia NAACP, Other Groups to Host Press Conference on Newton County Mosque

None of those updates will impact projects with prior approval such as the blocked Newton mosque and cemetery.

"As a result of the County's quick and efficient review of our zoning ordinances, I plan to vote in favor of lifting the moratorium at the special called meeting on September 13," District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said in a joint statement released by Newton County, CAIR-GA and Masjid At-Taqwa. "Newton County is rich in diversity and hospitality, and we are happy to see residents of all faiths and backgrounds live and worship together in our community."

"We thank and commend the Newton County commissioners for pledging to lift the moratorium on permits for houses of worship," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-GA. "Although Newton Muslims will once again have the right to proceed with building a cemetery and house of worship, they plan to first spend more time building bridges with their neighbors."

Imam Mohammed Islam, the leader of Masjid At-Taqwa in Doraville, has accepted invitations to attend Sunday service at different churches in the area over the next four weeks. 

"As Muslims, we believe that God has commanded us to follow the teachings of the Prophets Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Muhammad, who exercised patience and treated their neighbors well, even in the face of injustice," said Imam Islam. "For that reason, we consider building bridges with our neighbors far more important than immediately building a new cemetery and house of worship."

Imam Islam plans to continue meeting with other church, civic and community leaders in Newton County.

CAIR-GA also plans to visit Newton County to deliver educational Islam 101 presentations about American Muslims in an effort to correct misinformation about Islam that inspired some of the public opposition to the mosque project.

The joint statement released by Newton County, CAIR-GA, and Masjid At-Taqwa can be read below.

CONTACT: CAIR-GA Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell; 404-285-9530; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Joint Statement

(COVINGTON, GA - 8/30/16) The Newton County Board of Commissioners today announced its intention to take action regarding the County's moratorium on permits for all houses of worship at a special called meeting on September 13, 2016, when County staff expects to complete the preliminary review of proposed updates to local zoning ordinances.

The Board of Commissioners voted August 16, 2016, to enact a temporary moratorium on new permitting for all places of worship to address legitimate planning and zoning concerns impacting the health, safety and welfare of the County’s citizens.

"As a result of the County's quick and efficient review of our zoning ordinances, I plan to vote in favor of lifting the moratorium at the special called meeting on September 13," District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz said. "Newton County is rich in diversity and hospitality, and we are happy to see residents of all faiths and backgrounds live and worship together in our community."

"We thank and commend the Newton County commissioners for pledging to lift the moratorium on permits for houses of worship," Edward Ahmed Mitchell, Executive Director of CAIR Georgia said. "Although Newton Muslims will once again have the right to proceed with building a cemetery and house of worship, they plan to first spend more time building bridges with their neighbors."

Imam Mohammed Islam, the leader of Masjid At-Taqwa in Doraville, has accepted invitations to attend Sunday service at different churches in the area over the next four weeks. 

"We believe that building bridges with our neighbors is far more important than immediately building a new house of worship and cemetery."

Following proper procedures and protocols, Newton County Development Services issued an Administrative Use Permit to Al Maadi al Islami, Inc. in June 2015. To date, the Applicant has not submitted plans to Newton County Development Services for review. Once an applicant submits plans, they are reviewed by various County departments and divisions including Engineering, Transportation, Planning and Zoning, Fire Services as well as applicable state agencies. Once plans are approved, the County issues permits and construction may begin.

“We pledge to work collaboratively with the Applicant throughout the review process to ensure the project meets federal and state requirements and follows local ordinances and laws. Once plans are approved, the County can issue permits and construction begins,” County Manager Lloyd Kerr said.

“As a County Commissioner, I encourage us to create a community where people from all walks of life and backgrounds are proud to live, work and play in Newton County. I will vote in support of removing the temporary moratorium at the September 13, 2016 special called meeting,” District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims said.

During the September 13, 2016, special called meeting, the Commissioners plan to receive an update on proposed changes to the County's zoning ordinances, which will not affect previously approved projects, including the Al Maadi al Islami, Inc. project.

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