0

Mosque opponents delayed; Public input will be heard next week

Special Photo. A proposed 20,000-square-foot mosque for the Dar-E Abbas congregation in Lilburn would be a replica of Roza of Hazrat Abbas, or a shrine to Abbas, in Karbala, Iraq.

Special Photo. A proposed 20,000-square-foot mosque for the Dar-E Abbas congregation in Lilburn would be a replica of Roza of Hazrat Abbas, or a shrine to Abbas, in Karbala, Iraq.

LILBURN — Opponents of the long-proposed and twice-rejected expansion of Lilburn’s Dar-E-Abbas mosque came to Monday’s City Council meeting ready for a fight. They’ll have to wait until next week.

Lilburn Mayor Diana Preston closed Monday’s brief meeting without hearing from the public, leaving silent several residents who attended the meeting to express their displeasure. Angel Alonso, the outspoken anti-expansion leader since the mosque on Hood Road first applied to the zoning board, stormed the podium afterward anyway.

“These people that are out here, that are voters, they want to know,” Alonso said, citing sewage, water runoff and traffic concerns.

“These are the residents of Lilburn, they’re the one’s that pay everybody else’s paychecks around here, and they want to know ... (The mayor and council) should have been here to hear the comments that we wanted to make.”

Public input regarding the mosque’s newest plans will be heard during a meeting at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 16. Several city officials declined comment following Monday’s meeting.

The Dar-E-Abbas congregation had made its home near the intersection of U.S. Highway 29 and Hood Road for more than 10 years when it applied to purchase four additional acres of land, which would be used for a new, larger mosque, a cemetery, a gymnasium and more parking.

Many nearby residents protested the mosque’s desire to expand, and the proposal was ultimately shot down by the Lilburn City Council in November 2009.

A new plan minus the cemetery and gymnasium was later proposed.

It was denied in December, planning commissioner Mike Hart saying at the time that the “site plan doesn’t communicate that this project will work.”

Founding mosque member Hasan Mirza said Monday that he’s “hoping” his group’s newest proposal will ultimately be approved.

“(Protestors) have their rights and we have our rights,” he said. “We’ve been there for 13 years, peacefully practicing our religion. The city, Lilburn PD have not gotten a single call (about) us.”