By: Lamyaa Mowery, MAV Contributing Editor
Nokesville — Prince William Board of County Supervisors voted to approve the construction of a new ADAMS’ mosque branch following a hearing held Tuesday evening June 27. The Mosque branch will be located in the Nokesville area of Prince William County.
The hearing held at the James McCoart Building in Woodbridge was attended by about 500 members of the ADAMS Greater and Western PWC congregation.
A smaller number of Gainesville and Nokesville residents, many members of the group Friends of the Rural Crescent Energized (FORCE) also attended the public hearing that night, most to oppose the new mosque. Opponent concerns focused on increased traffic and that allowing the mosque branch to connect to the public sewer would allow large corporations and institutions into the Rural Crescent as well.
Dozens of mosque supporters spoke to mitigate those concerns explaining that mosque traffic would only be for Friday mid-day prayers. Mosque visits in morning or evening rush hours are almost non-existent. The prayer services will be at noon time on Fridays only, well after morning rush hours, and will end before afternoon school release times. Traffic concerns are therefore irrelevant to the Application.
Proponents also addressed the sewer connection issue. They pointed out that the PWC Board had previously approved churches in the Rural Crescent to connect to public sewer. No application for a religious institution had ever been denied a request for sewer connection, and many of those churches had significantly larger buildings and worshipper capacity. ADAMS supporters presented a map of many plots in the Rural Crescent that had already been connected to public sewer over the past years, without destroying the character of the Crescent. One speaker noted how a PWC Planning Commissioner, a water treatment specialist by profession, had himself noted in the Planning Commission hearing that public sewer was the only environmentally reasonable and safe option for this property.
Two opposition members also noted the “true threat” of allowing groups with ties to terrorism and terrorist groups to have a facility in PWC. These allegations were roundly criticized even by members of the opposition to the mosque, though they were sadly emblematic of the many letters sent to ADAMS by individuals expressing similar views.
More than 175 persons signed up to speak, so the public hearing extended well through the night and into early morning. After the nearly 8 hours of public hearing and discussion, the PWC Board voted on two separate motions: the first to allow the mosque to be built there (which passed unanimously 8-0), and then to allow ADAMS to connect to public sewer (passed 5-3). Despite the late hour (3:30 AM), hundreds of supporters and many dozens of opponents remained in the Auditorium to witness the final result.
Supervisors Jeanine Lawson (R-Brentsville), Pete Candland (R-Gainesville) and Ruth Anderson (R-Occoquan) voting in favor of the mosque but against the connection to public sewer line. Board Chairman Corey Stewart (R) and Supervisors Maureen Caddigan (R-Potomac), Marty Nohe (R-Coles), Frank Principi (D-Woodbridge) and John Jenkins (D-Neabsco) voted in favor of the mosque and in favor of the sewer connection.
The application for this new ADAMS branch began about three years ago to accommodate the Muslim population in western PWC. Dar al-Noor (Hoadly Rd, Woodbridge) is currently the only mosque that can manage larger crowds in PWC.
This is not the first opposition to an ADAMS mosque in NoVA: the application to expand its Ashburn branch last year also faced considerable resistance, but was similarly resolved when the Loudoun Board of Supervisors voted to grant ADAMS the permit earlier this year.
The ADAMS leadership and the entire ADAMS – Greater Gainesville community applaud all the PWC Supervisors for their support of the ADAMS mosque and their obvious strong commitment to religious freedom.