The Wilmington City Council approved a rezoning request for the area of 17th and Rankin Streets to be allowed to host a religious institution.
Council members approved the request unanimously, but not until after several folks both for and against the potential Islamic Mosque spoke out.
Members of the Islamic Learning Center said they are running out of space for their worship. They asked the decision of the council be based on reason and not religious myths.
Those who spoke against the rezoning request stated they were concerned about traffic issues that would flood their residential neighborhood.
"I don't want a church or any other religious organization or anything else that's going to have 1,000 people - that turns me off," said Angie Tsingelis, who lives in the area. "You know how many cars that means? We don't need it."
At the planning commission meeting, the applicant, Design Solutions, wanted to transform the building at the intersection of North 17th Street and Rankin Street into an Islamic Mosque for worship.
Based on conditions of the deal, the existing 4,080 square-foot building at the proposed location will remain in place with no building expansions. The existing parking lot will also remain with 43 spaces and no trees are proposed to be removed.
The proposed uses of the facility are anticipated to generate less traffic than the previous professional office establishment currently permitted, according to city staff.
Another condition is that a maximum of 100 attendees will be allowed at the mosque at any given time.
Developers say they were surprised that several people spoke out against the plan. However, Khalil Moya said he's pleased with the board's decision and the support from the rest of the community.
"Human nature is that a lot of times people are afraid of the unknown. Frankly, this is the message that we are trying to get out to neighbors," said Moya. "Come and talk to a Muslim, find out what Islam is really about. Don't just go by what you see on TV. Take the time to hear from the horses mouth."
Copyright 2014 WECT. All rights reserved.
322 Shipyard Boulevard