WASHINGTON – Following years of debate, a local Muslim institution obtained permission to build a new mosque after the Prince William County Board of Supervisors voted to approve a zoning permit for the group.
The unanimous vote came after hours of public testimony during a hearing that began Tuesday evening and stretched into the early hours of Wednesday.
For about three years, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, also known as the ADAMS Center, had sought a special use permit to build the mosque on land zoned for agriculture in Nokesville.
“We believe that this sends a strong message for equal protection under the law and religious freedom,” said Rizwan Jaka, chairman of the ADAMS board. “We truly appreciate it.”
The permit allows the group to build a 22,400-square-foot mosque that can hold up to 500 people near the intersection of Vint Hill Road and Schaeffer Lane.
Many who live in the area publicly opposed the idea.
“We thank all the neighbors,” Jaka added. “We look forward to continuing to work with them; to continue to take their feedback and work together for the common good.”
Several hundred opponents and supporters packed the hearing room to give their opinion.
Some who spoke out against the mosque said they had concerns about the building’s impact on the neighborhood, particularly the added traffic it would bring. Others said the mosque would violate county policy by accessing a county sewer line. A few expressed concerns about radical Islam.
Those who spoke in support of the proposal said the positives of having a mosque in the community would easily outweigh any negatives.
“We need to look deeper than the immediate and look at the greater good that a place of prayer and worship will bring,” said Sister Joanna Burley with the Saint Benedict Monastery, a Catholic institution in nearby Bristow. “I’m asking the people of the area to be willing to give a little in order to gain a lot.”
The ADAMS Center is one of the largest Muslim organizations in the region and runs mosques on campuses in Sterling, Chantilly and Ashburn plus six satellite locations.