NC: MOSQUE REQUEST SPARKS DEBATE
Dr. Waheed Akhtar has to go to Raleigh to pray.
There just are not any suitable places in Goldsboro for a Muslim to worship in, he said.
So he bought some land at the corner of Wayne Memorial Drive and Best Avenue and, along with several who share his faith, asked Goldsboro City Council members to allow the construction of a mosque there.
But some residents of the surrounding neighborhood said Monday they are strongly opposed to the rezoning request.
The public hearing on the issue lasted more than an hour as several supporters and opponents took the floor, speaking at length about the pros and cons of a shift from residential to office and institutional.
Joyce Waters lives "right next to" the proposed mosque site and said potential traffic issues are a major concern for neighbors along Best Avenue.
"We are trying to preserve this residential area," she said. "I do not want to see this happen."
Akhtar and his supporters, though, dismissed the claim that their worship center would create an inconvenience for the neighbors -- Wayne Memorial Drive will always create traffic woes, he said.
"We're proposing to build a small place," Akhtar said. "(Muslims) are a smaller community in Goldsboro."
Plans for the mosque call for a 2,000-plus square-foot facility with room for roughly 20 parking spaces -- more than enough to fulfill the needs of the 20 to 25 Muslims who would utilize the building, he added.
With "very little increase" in the Muslim community expected over the next few years, Akhtar said he finds it hard to believe that the city's "small Muslim community" would disrupt the neighborhood.