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Alpharetta to reconsider mosque expansion
by Rachel Kellogg
September 11, 2013 12:54 PM | 2528 views | 4 4 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The North Fulton Islamic Center is getting another chance to ask Alpharetta's City Council for an expansion on its property at 1265 Rucker Road.

Last Thursday, the city's planning commission voted to recommend that council allow the expansion with 25 conditions.

The worship center first asked to upgrade its 2,500 sq. ft. location to make it a 7,900 sq. ft. structure in May 2010, but city council voted against the expansion based on an agreement the mosque had, reportedly, made with surrounding neighborhoods to not try to expand.

Planning commission members also voted against the expansion three years ago.

“I voted against [the request in 2010], based on the merits, but … I feel good that both sides have worked in a mutual area of agreement to provide something that's balanced for the worshipers and for the residents,” said commission member Rob Partee, as he was making the motion this time to approve the request.

After the 2010 denial, the mosque's representatives issued a lawsuit against the city, saying they had been "unreasonably" limited and discriminated against based on their religion.

But after several court rulings and appeals, it was decided on the federal level that the city must consider the project again.

One condition added to the new recommendation for approval says the center cannot expand its square footage again for 15 years.

Another condition says the building cannot stand taller than 35 feet, and other conditions prohibit the center from cutting down two large trees and from adding parking spots to the front of the building.

Several residents went to the meeting to speak in favor and against the expansion. The speakers in favor are members of the mosque and those opposed live in the surrounding neighborhoods.

One member of the center said his adult children, who grew up in Alpharetta, ask him a question he hasn't been able to answer: “When are we going to have a decent place of worship?”

He then pointed out that he sees “humongous churches on both sides of Rucker Road” where single-family homes are located.

But residents in the nearby Fairfax subdivision maintained that the Islamic center promised in 2004 that it would not expand, but had no intention of following through.

“In our opinion … the Islamic Center of North Fulton has always planned for continued growth, even though they promised not to expand the existing structure.”

Commission member Francis Kung’u addressed the accusation that the original denial was the result of religious discrimination, saying, “We were very clear that we greatly appreciate the efforts of the mosque and what it brings to the community.”

The recommendation for approval was OK'd by all commission members except Will Gurley.

Chairman Mike Tomy encouraged those interested in the issue to let their voices be heard when the request goes before City Council on Sept. 23.

What's next?:
Alpharetta City Council will vote on the North Fulton Islamic Center's expansion on Sept. 23.



Do you agree with the Rucker Road mosque expansion?


Comments
(4)
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jillybeen
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September 17, 2013
So, if we wanted to build a giant Christian Church in a muslim country that would be ok? No way-they would murder us for it! Give me a break. Enough is enough!
Francois123
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September 23, 2013
This country is not a Christian country. That's why its so great! It allows anyone to worship whatever they want (freedom of religion). You are referring to countries that are "Islamic states". They don't have freedom of religion. They are told what to worship. Otherwise, they are punished. That's the difference. You can't compare us to those Muslim countries.
godriddance
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September 11, 2013
Easy solution: do away with all religion. Isn't it readily apparent over millennia that religion has been a corrupt element in society, by far offsetting any benefits in the name of a particular god? Everyone is an atheist of the hundreds of gods prior, yet their particular god whom they believe seems to always be the real answer.

As far as the traffic issue, that's simply a red herring, averting from the real issue that is discrimination. I see police as some churches herding traffic (at taxpayers' expense)--same could be a solution in this instance. One can set up a Christian church as easily as a Starbucks around here. Now the community must resort to legal acrobatics to keep face.
Greenmont Walk Home
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September 11, 2013
I'm positive traffic on Rucker Rd has not decreased since the last studies were performed regarding the expansion's impact on the area.

Yes there are big churches already on Rucker Rd which is exactly why we do not want another one. All of the places of worship on Rucker mean we get loads of visitors from all over the area on our little one lane road... we also get overloaded for any Will's Park event on the other end where Rucker turns into Old Milton.

We also do not want to see Rucker expanded to two lanes because accommodating more traffic is not the answer to this. It is already too dangerous to walk down to Will's Park because of the heavy traffic. Heck, it's dangerous making a left turn onto Rucker, much less walk along side it.
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