August 15, 2016
A few days ago, the Newton County Citizen posted an article about a proposed mosque and compound, including a school, cemetery, and housing on a 135-acre piece of land on Hwy 162 in Newton County.
Needless to say, many people in that area are upset that they never knew about this, even though the plans have been on the drawing board, so to speak, since August 2015.
In Newton County, a “church” does not have to have any rezoning requests submitted according to the article. “Al Maad Al Islami Inc. has received administrative approval for construction of a place of worship, to be called Avery Community Church, on 135.168 acres located across Highway 162 from Avery Place subdivision. The property, located at the northwest intersection of County Line Road and Highway 162, is zoned agricultural residential and no rezoning is needed for construction of the house of worship or the cemetery.”
I spoke with Shane Sealy, P&Z Director for Jasper County, and asked him about the zoning for churches in Jasper County. Proposed churches in the AG district of Jasper County must have a special use permit. However, in other zoned districts of the county, no additional zoning, or notification to the public is required.
Tomorrow night, August 16 at 7:00PM, the Newton County BOC will hold a regular meeting, and the mosque development will be on the agenda. People in Newton County are upset because they have been blindsided by this proposed development. Other information about the owner from news reports is as follows:
“Since the organization was listed in court documents as doing business as Masjid At-Taqwa, a search of this term netted interesting results. It just so happens that Masjid At-Taqwa has organizations/facilities in Texas; Brooklyn, NY; Connecticut, Michigan, the UK, Canada and New Zealand – the same as Mohammad Islam. And, the Imam of Masjid At-Taqwa of New York happens to be Siraj Wahhaj, an unindicted coconspirator in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Siraj is also notorious for his advocacy of an Islamic State here in the United States.”
Other news articles about this issue:
Citizens, be informed and stay informed! Only by being informed can the citizens understand what is being done and talked about, and then press our officials to make good decisions for everyone in Jasper County. That is our goal with the Taxdogs blog.