Controversy over proposed mosque in Norwalk

April 6, 2012 3:04:29 PM PDT
There's controversy in Norwalk, Connecticut over the proposed building of a mosque and Islamic Center.

The Muslim Friday prayers for members of the Al Madany Islamic Center are held in a rented hall that's part of Norwalk's Christ Episcopal Church.

It's a religious center the members hope is only temporary.

"The community is starting to grow and the place doesn't fit so we rent," said Azzeim Mahmoud, Imam.

So now the hope is to build this mosque, nearly 27,000 square feet, with a prayer hall for more than 400, community and classrooms along with a library as an Islamic center.

They want to build it on the slightly more than one and half acres they purchased on Fillow Street, historic house and all.

"It's just much too big for the area and it will dominate the neighborhood. It doesn't matter if it's a mosque, a synagogue or a church it's just too big," said Lynn Sawyer, a neighbor.

Lynn Sawyer who lives just around the corner is joining with other neighbors who are challenging the plans concerned about the size of the project.

"Our concerns are traffic, parking, and safety," said Edmond Ryan, a neighbor.

Edmond Ryan is with the group "Keep 127 Fillow Street Residential".

While the project calls for 89 parking spaces he and others believe there could still be space issues.

"If there is overflow, the overflow is going to be on the streets and it's going to be hard to drive through here," Ryan said.

They add there are two schools in the area.

"It's just very busy. There are children walking both ways and there is a lot of traffic," Sawyer said.

"Schools always dismiss at 2:30 or 3:00 or 3:30 everybody's already gone," Mahmoud said.

They would be gone by the time Imam Azzeim Mahmoud says his members would arrive for their 4 O'clock prayers.

They also believe they have addressed several issues like the placement of the driveway away from a blind corner, along with other improvements.

"We have told them anytime if you want to ask anything, come to us. In Islam our Islam teaches us to take care of our neighbor as yourself," Mahmoud said.

Norwalk's Planning and Zoning Commission is now considering the project, already holding one very lengthy public hearing.

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