The Islamic Center of Morris County's plans to convert a warehouse off Route 46 into a mosque has attracted a lot of attention in tiny Rockaway Borough, and officials are expecting a full house at a zoning board meeting this evening.
The Islamic Center is looking to make mostly interior changes to the approximately 14,000-square-foot building on Mannino Drive, which was used most recently as a rehabilitation center for the hearing and learning impaired. It has been used in various ways through the years, including as a bingo hall, said Larry Wiener, the attorney for the center.
The mosque "will provide a service to the community and just reflects our growing cultural diversity," Wiener said. The facility would have a maximum capacity of 191, he said, with the most traffic during a two-hour window during Friday afternoon prayer services.
But many residents have raised concerns about the mosque's application and circulated fliers urging people to come out to tonight's meeting. One opponent, Tina Marie Green, said yesterday that the town could not take the loss in tax ratables.
"We are a two-mile radius town," she said. "There's absolutely no room to ever make up for this tax loss. It's just really unfair."
Green, who owns a beauty salon next to the proposed mosque site, said a building that was "built for the town for revenue" should not be taken off the tax rolls. She said her opposition had nothing to do with the proposed use itself.
"We're a tight community and we love everybody," she said. "We're very diverse here."