Commissioners voted to enact the five-week moratorium on Aug. 16 in order to allow the county’s Development Services Department time to review zoning provisions and current trends related to houses of worship. The moratorium was prompted by a proposal to build a mosque and cemetery on 135 acres of rural land on Ga. Highway 162.
     According to the county, Development Services will have completed its preliminary review of proposed updates to local zoning ordinances by the Sept. 13 meeting date. It appears that there will be at least three votes in favor of lifting the moratorium at that meeting.
     “As a result of the county’s quick and efficient review of our zoning ordinances, I plan to vote in favor of lifting the moratorium at the special called meeting on Sept. 13,” said District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz. “Newton County is rich in diversity and hospitality, and we are happy to see residents of all faiths and backgrounds live and worship together in our community.”
     District 2 Commissioner Lanier Sims said he, too, planned to vote to lift the moratorium.  “As a county commissioner I encourage us to create a community where people from all walks of life and backgrounds are proud to live, work and play in Newton County,” said Sims.
     Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR Georgia, commended commissioners for their decision and said that Muslims associated with the Masjid At-Taqwa mosque in Doraville “plan to spend more time building bridges with their neighbors” before proceeding with construction.
     Masjid-At-Taqwa Imam Mohammed Islam, has accepted invitations to attend Sunday services at different churches in the area over the next four weeks, according to the joint press release.
     “We believe that building bridges with our neighbors is far more important than immediately building a new house of worship and cemetery,” he said in the released statement.
     According to CAIR Georgia, the organization also plans to visit Newton County to deliver educational Islam 101 presentations about American Muslims in an effort to correct misinformation about Islam.
Not all commissioners, however, were pleased with the involvement of CAIR. District 1 Commissioner John Douglas, in whose district the proposed mosque and cemetery will be constructed, objected to the joint press release with CAIR.
     “While we had discussed several versions of the press release, at no time were we told it would be a joint statement with CAIR,” Douglas said in a released statement Wednesday morning. “CAIR has been accused by many of being sympathetic to terrorist groups around the world and is listed as a terror front group now by the government of the United Arab Emirates. I do not approve of issuing a joint statement with CAIR, who is not even a direct participant in this discussion. Representatives of the Doraville group said as much during their Covington visit. I have instructed county staff not to put my name on the release. “
     Douglas reserved a decision on lifting the moratorium.  “I need to hear from our zoning folks first,” he said. “There’s no point in us spending the money to have staff dig around and find answers for us if we aren’t going to listen to what they say.”
     Ellis said he would continue to focus on representing the interests of county residents, particularly those who would be impacted the most by the mosque project.
“If the project moves forward, I will continue to work collaboratively with all parties involved to minimize the impact of this project for all Newton citizens,” Ellis said. “A meeting was held in my office Monday with the current property owners and their real estate agent. The purpose was to represent the constituents in the area where the development is proposed and gather information related to the mosque project. Additionally, I suggested to the property owners that they develop ways to minimize impact in the immediate area. Finally, I asked for the owners to have a preliminary plat prepared along with a time line, to be completed prior to any permitting request.”
     Newton County has been in the spotlight since mid-August when commissioners enacted a five-week moratorium on development of houses of worship after plans for the mosque and cemetery became public. The moratorium, which was approved by all commissioners, was designed to give the county’s planning staff time to review zoning provisions and the current trends for places of worship. Houses of worship are currently allowed in all zoning districts in Newton County, provided the project meets minimum requirements of the ordinance.
     Commissioners subsequently held two back-to-back town hall meetings on Aug. 22 to allow residents an opportunity to voice their opinions on the proposed development. Hundreds turned out, with many expressing heated opposition to the mosque.
     The moratorium and town hall meetings drew negative media attention, which prompted the mayors of the county’s five municipalities to call on commissioners to lift the moratorium, among other things, saying that the board’s actions related to the mosque were an embarrassment to the community.

COMMENT:  Davey Crockett ·

RE: The Al Maad Al Islami Mosque

OK, most folks saw that snowball rolling downhill, but just for the record I would like to know if anyone is looking into the money issue regarding the purchase of those 132 acres in Newton County? It is claimed that this is a Mosque composed of low income people from Bangladesh.

$675,900 was the sale price. It comes out to 5K per acre and I don't see any of the major players in the Mosque having more than some bankruptcies and one 'Subway' franchise, that is Mr. Turun Ahmed, who is listed as the Mosque CFO.

So where did they get $675,900, probably cash, but even if it were done with partial mortgage it would still be a major amount of money up front.

When I reported on our little issue Mosque in Kennesaw it was just a chicken shit sort of thing where some rich Arabs wanted their own little store front Mosque so they could be big frogs in a little pond.

This purchase from the Neeley Farms Family Limited Partnership, last August, involves major money and it seems that those known to be involved are not in that category of big time operators.

So again, where is the $ coming from?

Anyone in County Govt got the nerve to stand up on their hind legs and ask that? If not, how about someone from the media asking?

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