MI: MANY OPPOSE NEW MOSQUE
A hearing on a proposed mosque along Ellsworth Road in Ypsilanti Township drew more than 150 people Tuesday, with most of them opposing the project.
"This is the wrong location for it," said Peter Williamson, who objected to the size of the project. "I would want the Muslim community to enjoy it, but it does not fit in the neighborhood."
The Hidaya Muslim Community Association is proposing an 85,770-square-foot-community center on seven acres along Ellsworth Road between Golfside and Hewitt. The project includes a mosque, a recreation facility, an educational center and 264 parking spaces, said Khaled Nehlawi, who is in charge of construction and lives in the neighborhood.
The project would cost about $6 million and would be built in phases, he said. The first phase includes a 27,000-square-foot mosque, and the rest would follow as funding becomes available several years from now, he said.
The township Planning Commission held the hearing Tuesday but postponed voting on the project until the association addresses issues regarding access and utility easements. The commission also instructed township staff to mail additional notices to neighborhood residents to inform them of the project.
Nehlawi said he was disappointed with the decision, but the association will work with the township to resolve the outstanding issues. He said organizers will talk to neighborhood residents to clear up any concerns they have about the project.
Many Muslims in Washtenaw County pray either at the Islamic Center of Ann Arbor, 2301 Plymouth Road, or at a mosque in Canton. The demand has outgrown those facilities, Nehlawi said. The Islamic Center accommodates about 350 people, and nearly 10,000 Muslims live in Washtenaw County, he said.
Neighbors at the hearing Tuesday also expressed concerns about increased traffic, loudspeakers sounding the call to prayer five times a day, the holding of late functions for a large number of people, having dormitories in the facility, and holding functions during the last 10 days of Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims.