Prince William Supervisors Approve Nokesville ADAMS Mosque

| June 28, 2017 | 0 Comments | News

ADAMS members stand and cheer to show the Board of County Supervisors how many of them came to support the mosque.

At a meeting attended by several hundred, June 27, the Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved by a tight margin the Special Use Permit [SUP] for the Greater Gainesville ADAMS [All Dulles Area Muslim Society] to be built at the corner of Vint Hill Road and Schaeffer Lane in Nokesville.

“The mosque is really important because we don’t have a mosque in the area,” said 17-year-old, Areeb Fayyaz, speaking with Bristow Beat.

The 22,400 square foot mosque could seat 500. It would have 303 on-site parking spaces, a playing field and open spaces. The building is 25-feet tall with a small 45-foot second floor and a 60-foot dome.

ADAMS Mosque will be located on the Rural Crescent side of Vint Hill Road. In recent years, new schools have been built in that vicinity.

People began lining up outside of the McCoart Government Building around 5 p.m. Following the public hearing, which began at 8 p.m., the vote was not taken until after 3 a.m. Everyone who signed up was allowed to speak.

The supervisors split the vote into two, taking sewer out of the equation for the first vote. Without the consideration of sewer, supervisors unanimously approved the mosque.

Upon the final vote, sewer hookup passed 5:3. Supervisors Jeanine Lawson (Brentsville-R), Peter Candland (Gainesville-R) and Ruth Anderson (Coles-R) voted against the motion.

In a previous vote, the vote was tied as Supervisor John Jenkins (Neabsco-D) also voted against the sewer hookup. Insinuating Jenkins voted in error, Chairman Stewart called for a revote.

Jenkins hesitated during the revote, to which Stewart said, “vote yes, John.” Citizens in the audience booed and someone yelled, “don’t tell him how to vote.”

Finally, Jenkins voted no, and the mosque was approved.

The opposing supervisors responded by voting against the motion to adjourn the meeting.

The approval of the mosque was a long time coming, dating back to public meetings in 2014, and going back even further for members of the Gainesville area ADAMS who had been meeting at a temporary location in Manassas for several years.

Hundreds of citizens gathered for the public meeting on the ADAMS mosque, June 27, 2017, at the McCoart Building.

The ADAMS community felt they needed their own religious institution in the Brentsville District and greater Gainesville area as they live in western Prince William County and nearby areas such as Manassas.

Many citizens said they look around the Brentsville District and see an abundance of churches, noting they only want what their neighbors have, their own house of worship.

They said that bringing the mosque into the neighborhood would be good for many of the same reasons that all religious organizations are welcomed.

Sister JoAnn with the Benedictine Sisters in Bristow argued for the mosque, saying she greatly appreciates the beauty of nature but foremost she supports bringing people to God.

“Look at the greater good that a place of prayer and worship will do for the community…[The mosque would bring] so much richness to the area for years and years to come in a way that we cannot measure in human terms.”

Citizens kept to an argument about site-use rather than religion, except for one man who alleged a connection between ADAMS and the Muslim Brotherhood, which caused ADAMS members to boo loudly.

Many recognized the approval of the mosque hinged upon its sewer designation. Both staff and the Prince William Planning Commission previously approved the site use; however, they stipulated that the applicant should apply for septic rather than sewer connection.

Local ADAMS members stand to show support.

ADAMS representatives continued to ask for sewer, even though ADAMS did not order a soil test.

“I’m befuddled while a clearly deficient SUP is even being discussed here,” said one local resident.

The request for sewer was extremely contentious for community members. Citizens argued that allowing a sewer connection would set a new precedent that could open the Rural Crescent to development. They further argued it was fundamentally unjust since citizens and other institutions were denied sewer.

“[You would be] setting a precedent that would destroy the Rural Crescent,” said one rural resident.

The point was muddied by the fact that Victory’s Crossings Church to be built very close to ADAMS was approved with sewer by the supervisors in 2013. However, the church first found septic would not work at the site.

Citizens also voiced concern the mosque would bring in significant traffic into an area that experiences high volume traffic from Patriot High School and two nearby elementary schools, despite a traffic analysis offering contradictory data.

The ADAMS’ attorney said the mosque was going above and beyond by organizing their prayer times, 12:30-1:30 p.m. Fridays, so they do not overlap with school dismissals, something other religious institutions were not asked to do.

Supervisors were divided on the issue of approving sewer for the mosque.

Lawson emphasized that she ran for supervisor on a promise to protect the Rural Crescent and believes she has been consistent in doing so. Reading previous board ruling as far back as 2002, she demonstrated that sewer has been denied even to Christian churches.

She quoted her Planning Commissioner, Patty McKay, who said at another public hearing in 2007, “you can support religion and the comprehensive plan by allowing this institution to purchase land outside the Rural Crescent.”

Lawson said she and former Brentsville Supervisor Wally Covington advised ADAMS that they would run into sewer denial should they purchase the site, and they offered to help them find a location in the development area.

Anderson agreed with Lawson on the sewer issue. She said it would be unfair for the community to assume her vote against sewer reflected whether or not she wanted a mosque.

“I sincerely want you to find a good place to worship,” Anderson said.

However, Supervisor Marty Nohe (Coles-R) said if ever an exception should be made it should be made to support religious freedom, and his vote is for what he feels is right, not because he is afraid of a potential lawsuit.

However, Chairman At-large Corey Stewart (R) did seem most concerned with protecting the board from lawsuit should the courts find their board had been inconsistent in its ruling.

Referring to the 2013 public hearing in which the board approved Victory’s Crossing Church, he referred to language by which the board said the use of septic would be insufficient for the institution.

He felt that could be used to argue there was a kind of religious discrimination at play by which the board had placed an “undue burden” upon the mosque that it did not apply to other religious institutions.

Along with members ADAMS, local Democrats came out to support the mosque. Many said they were concerned that all the speakers before 10 p.m. were in opposition to the mosque while pro-ADAMS residents waited until later in the evening to get their turn.

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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