A specific use permit was approved 4-0 Tuesday for a one-story fellowship hall addition to a mosque. Additional parking will also be provided for the Islamic Society of Edmond and North American Islamic Trust, Inc.
Four surrounding land owners spoke in favor of the project including David Webb.
“I live three houses down from the mosque,” Webb said. “It’s users have always been very good neighbors.” Richard Powers, who has lived on Jackson Street for 36 years, said he remembers when the Islamic Society asked to build the mosque.
He supported the construction of the Islamic Center in Edmond in 1992. Many Edmond residents at the time adopted a “not in my back yard” attitude during the summer of 1990 when the Islamic Society of Edmond approached the city.
“I was for it. All the things they said was going to happen that were bad never happened,” Powers said. “The parking situation has always been a problem there, but it hasn’t been due to the mosque. It’s been due to the college kids that need a place to park.”
Parking issues led the Edmond City Council to deny a similar request in 2013 for the mosque that is located west of University Drive between Wayne and Thatcher.
“We’ve seen this before and they’ve downsized the project …This is a shorter building,” said Bob Schiermeyer, city planner.
An accessory building will be removed to the west of the mosque as well as a gray house on the south side of the alley to be creating a parking lot, Schiermeyer said. The parking requires 53 parking spaces and 57 spaces are planned on a lot size of 36,563 square feet, according to the plan.
“They have 1,100 square feet in the largest place of assembly in the new building,” Schiermeyer said. “That’s what we use to figure the parking. That would allow 158 persons.”
There will be no changes to the existing 689-square-foot prayer hall on the southwest corner of Wayne and University, Schiermeyer said. Permanent seating is not used for worship in the mosque. Prayer mats are used for the worshipers.
No light poles will be provided, only wall packs on the building, said attorney Randel Shadid, representing the applicant.
Schiermeyer reported a sight-proof fence will be provided, along those elevations of the property, including along the alley. The landscaping on this site is double the requirement, Shadid said.
Misty Buchanan lives nearby the mosque. She complained as a homeowner, that trees and crepe myrtle would be lost with the new parking lot.
Edmond Neighborhood Alliance President Walter Jenny said parking and the incompatible size of the building with the neighborhood are reasons to deny the addition’s site plan.
Shadid added that the worshipers want three new driveways to include one on Wayne, one on University and one on Thatcher that would access parking that meets city standards.
The Islamic Society does not want to eliminate the existing southern drive on University, south of the alley, as requested by the city’s engineering department, Shadid said.
“I’m concerned that if we give it up now, then I’m pretty certain it’s never coming back,” Shadid said.
Schiermeyer said the city would like a dumpster placed in the parking lot, but Shadid said trash could be accommodated by using large city garbage carts that serve the city well.
“I just can’t figure out why it’s that big an issue,” said Barry Moore, commission chairman.
“Because it takes up parking spaces,” Shadid said.
Moore said people are entitled to a house of worship and he doesn’t want to vote no because of a trash cart.
“I’m not going to agree with you tonight but I would state if you put that in your motion, we certainly would consider it,” Shadid said.
The city council will consider this item on May 11.