Second mosque riles neighbors

LAWRENCEVILLE -- For the second time this month, a proposed mosque has drawn the ire of local residents.

Commissioners asked for more time to consider the proposed Darus Salam Masjid, which would replace a 50-year-old house that currently holds the Sunni Muslim worship services with a 20,400-square-foot facility. A small commercial building was also proposed.

But a group of Cruse Road neighbors said the mosque has caused problems in the community since it opened in 2000. They said the road is already too crowded, and members would frequently park in local subdivisions when the parking lot would fill.

One woman said she saw a corpse outside the mosque, as she drove her school bus by.

"We in no way are against our freedom of religion," said area resident Sharon Odom. "That isn't why we are here. Our concerns are for our community."

Lights and noise have also been issues for the community, the neighbors said.

"The parking is terrible, and the traffic is terrible, and we just can't take it anymore," said Henry Whitley, who has lived on Cruse Road since it was a dirt road.

Dozens of members of the congregation filled a corner of the auditorium at the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center.

"We are very peaceful there," said Alam Chowdhury. "We are very excited. This is our dream."

Mitch Peevy of Mill Creek Consulting said the group would take at least two years to raise money before construction began on the mosque, so he said the commissioners' vote to table the decision until December would not be a burden.

Commissioner Kevin Kenerly said he would visit the facility -- both at announced times and unannounced times -- to get a feeling for the neighborhood's concerns.

Earlier this month, Lilburn's planning commission tabled a discussion of the expansion of a mosque on U.S. Highway 29 at Hood Road. The Shia Muslim mosque proposal includes land currently owned by Mayor Diana Preston.

The planning hearing has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Lawrenceville justice center.