WV: Muslims Decide Against Site for Mosque



The Muslim Association of Huntington has decided not to build
a mosque in the Beverly Hills area of Huntington because of concerns about
unmarked graves on the property.

The Huntington Board of Zoning Appeals also voted unanimously Tuesday to
overturn an earlier decision by the city Planning Commission to grant a
special permit allowing the Muslim Association to build the mosque off of
Bethel Road, a residential zone. Board members also expressed worries about
unmarked graves on the property.

"At this point, there are so many unanswered questions," BZA member Ray
Browning said. "To allow this to go on would be a mistake."

The Muslim Association proposed to build the mosque on a seven-acre tract
of land above Bethel Road. While most of the land is vacant, a small
portion consists of the abandoned Bethel Cemetery, which at one time was
the only cemetery in Huntington where blacks could be buried.

The debate about the property has centered on whether there are unmarked
graves on the vacant part of the land where the Muslim Association was
wanting to build the mosque.

Muslim Association spokesman Dr. Jamil Chaudri said earlier this week that
the Muslim Association would only build the mosque on the property if Remax
Realty agents could guarantee that there are no unmarked graves on it. Jim
Weiler, a sales agent for Remax, said Tuesday that's a guarantee he can't
make.

"As a broker, there is no way we could guarantee that there are unmarked
graves there," Weiler said.

The Muslim Association will now look for another location to build a
mosque, Chaudri said. In addition to concerns about unmarked graves,
Chaudri said the Muslim Association is strapped for time to find a new
location. The association currently uses a house in the 1600 block of 13th
Avenue for prayer sermons. It recently sold the house to Cabell Huntington
Hospital so the hospital can build the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center..

 


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