Roswell approves relocation of popular mosque to Crabapple community

Roswell City Hall. A rezoning for a new location of the Roswell Community Masjid was approved by the City Council. AJC FILE

Roswell City Hall. A rezoning for a new location of the Roswell Community Masjid was approved by the City Council. AJC FILE

A longtime mosque that’s rooted in the community has outgrown its Roswell location and plans to build a new multi-million dollar home located just a few miles away.

Roswell Community Masjid was approved by the city for rezoning earlier this month but must ensure that its appearance doesn’t detract from the largely residential surroundings.

The mosque now located off Holcomb Bridge plans to spend more than $5 million on a new five-acre campus. It will be set in the mostly residential block of Crabapple and Chaffin Roads, which also includes churches and schools in the immediate area.

A large number of supporters of the mosque attended the City Council meeting, but not all spoke. They applauded the council’s final unanimous vote to approve the move.

“(Roswell Community Masjid) is without a doubt one of the greatest contributors of our community,” Councilman Mike Palermo said during the May 10 City Council meeting. He said his support for the rezoning would be based on an assurance that design will be in line with the characteristics of the neighborhood.

Palermo and fellow council members approved rezoning the new property from residential to civic and institutional use, a designation necessary for a place of worship.

Numerous residents and faith leaders spoke in support of the rezoning and mosque.

“More than perhaps any other faith community including our own, they show up ...” said Minister Dave Dunn, of Unitarian Universalist Metro Atlanta North. “They want the best for this community. They are all in.”

Four of the 18 commenters were opposed to the new mosque being built in their neighborhood. The neighbors said they worried the scale of the campus would affect home values and detract from the residential feel of the neighborhood. Some council members also questioned how the mosque would look and approved the rezoning with a list of conditions.

Maher Budier, executive director of the mosque, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that neighbors’ input will be included in the final design, which could take up to a year to complete.

Roswell Community Masjid opened as a single building in 2008 on Market Place near Holcomb Bridge Road. The new Crabapple property will have three buildings: a prayer hall, a youth building, and an office and adult activities building. The three will total about 48,000 square feet. The campus will include a playground and amphitheater, which Budier said will be used for activities and not music performances.

No amplified sound will be allowed on the property according to the rezoning conditions. The rezoning also requires the mosque to plant two rows of evergreen trees on Chaffin Road at Crabapple Road to serve as a screen to obscure view of the its building.

The city is also requiring Roswell Community Masjid to pay $5,000 towards the cost of a future traffic signal at the intersection before applying for a land disturbance permit to build the mosque.

The mosque and its developer might also have to create a turn lane into their site from Crabapple Road, as well as a separate turn lane onto nearby Strickland Road.

Nearby resident Ashley Duerr, who opposes the new mosque location, asked council members to ensure the buildings’ appearance is compatible with others along the road. Duerr complained that Roswell Community Masjid has been vague with design information during meetings with neighbors.

“The reason we moved into Roswell and on that street was to be surrounded by beautiful buildings and trees and the residential feel,” she said.

The congregation has about 150 families and that number increases as people from other communities visit regularly throughout the week for prayers and events, outreach director Shaheen Bharde told the AJC.

In 13 years, the mosque has formed relationships with city officials and residents, including partnering with other organizations to co-host mayoral and city council debates.