WASHINGTON — Residents in Prince William County’s rural crescent are suing the county’s Board of Supervisors for granting a special-use permit allowing the All Dulles Area Muslim Society to build a large mosque in Nokesville, Virginia.
The plaintiff, Action for Rural Crescent, LLC filed a civil suit in Prince William Circuit Court July 27, seeking to invalidate the permit granted during a late-night meeting on June 28.
The special-use permit will allow the ADAMS Center to build the 22,400-square-foot mosque on 14 acres of land zoned for agriculture, near the intersection of Vint Hill Road and Schaeffer Lane.
During the June 28 session, the board voted unanimously to approve a special-use permit for the new mosque. However, on a related question, the supervisors split 5-3 on whether to connect the mosque to the public sewer line.
The suit claims At-Large Supervisor Chairman Corey Stewart “forced the Board of Supervisors to navigate through a series of invented and confusing procedures,” to get the special-use permit approved.
In the area designated as Prince William’s rural crescent, septic tanks are the norm. The ADAMS Center had argued the public sewer would be less disruptive to the nearby environment.
The rural crescent is located in the westernmost portions of Prince William County, bordering Fauquier County.
In December 2016, the county’s Planning Commission recommended against a sewer connection for the ADAMS project.
However, during the June meeting, which lasted more than eight hours and included 175 people speaking for and against the mosque, the special-use permit was granted.
In the following days, two supervisors on the losing side of the decision asked the county attorney, Michelle Robl, to weigh in on whether procedural rules were followed.
She concluded although procedural rules weren’t strictly followed, the decision was legal.
The lawsuit claims the board failed to follow its own rules, resulting in a denial of due process, and accused the board of “arbitrary and capricious approval” of the special-use permit.
The group says required soil analysis and traffic-impact studies were not done, and says it will “suffer irreparable injury unless temporary and permanent declaratory and injunctive relief is granted by this Court.”
In its filing, Action for Rural Crescent asks the court to rule the board’s approval of the ADAMS’ special-use permit is in violation of state law, and therefore, null and void.
Dwight Timbers, a spokesperson for the group filing suit told WTOP “We’re looking for a compromise.”
Timbers said the group’s core consists of residents who live near Schaeffer Lane.
“We have no problem with a mosque there, as long as it’s sized for the site they bought,” Timbers said.
Other houses of worship in the area range in size between 2,500 and 3,000 square feet, and use septic systems, he said.
Stewart has said denying sewer access to ADAMS would open the county to federal discrimination lawsuits, since the board has approved access for Christian churches in the area.
Contacted by WTOP, Rizwan Jaka, chairman of the Board of Trustees for ADAMS Center, said the group is “in the process of reviewing the lawsuit and our options,” and declined further comment.
Immediately after the June 28 approval, Jaka thanked the neighbors who weathered the heated debate, which lasted several years.
“We look forward to continuing to work with them; to continue to take their feedback and work together for the common good,” he said.
Read the lawsuit:
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