High Point City Council Approves Mosque, Without Any Freakout

Ken AshfordGodstuff, Local Interest1 Comment

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HIGH POINT, N.C. The City Council on Monday unanimously approved a pair of rezoning requests that clears the way for a mosque to be built in south High Point.

The council granted requests from Malik Hanif to rezone 6.9 acres on the east side of Allen Jay Road just north of E. Fairfield Road from a residential multi-family classification to conditional use public and institutional with an accompanying conditional-use permit. Hanif and the Islamic Society of High Point plan to build an Islamic worship center and educational facility. Organizers said the city’s two existing mosques on W. Lexington Avenue and W. Market Center Drive don’t provide adequate space.

“In the last three or four years, we have seen tremendous growth in the population of the Muslim community. We are seeing so many immigrants and newcomers, and they are settling on the south side,” said Uzma Zaman, spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of High Point. “As new families are coming, they’re growing, they’re having kids, and we’re seeing a new generation of kids.”

Most of the discussion about the case centered around the impact of traffic generated by the mosque. City staff said Allen Jay Road currently gets about 10 percent of its vehicles-per-day capacity, and even combined with traffic from a nearby school, congestion shouldn’t be an issue.

“I’m concerned about noise and congestion, with us living right on top of the site,” said Katherine Gillespie, whose Ingram Road property abuts the mosque site.

Organizers said they don’t think the facility will impact traffic in the area at all because the hours when it draws people are expected to be from about 5-9 p.m. for children’s classes and for prayers early on Friday afternoons – times that shouldn’t conflict with school traffic.

Other residents voiced concerns about whether the mosque will teach Sharia, or Islamic law, and whether information about the donors for the facility is a matter of public record. Zaman said the mosque will not teach Sharia.

“If Christians are free to teach their kids, we can teach ours,” she said. “Just like you guys read the Bible, we’re going to read the Quran.”

City Attorney Fred Baggett reminded the council that the law requires members to consider only land-use issues and not religious questions in deciding cases like the one Monday.

“The Constitution of this great land does offer freedom of religion. The issue of faith has no bearing on these proceedings,” said Councilman Mike Pugh.