City officials have approved plans for a controversial mosque in Sheepshead Bay that’s been at the center of a divisive debate.
The original plans were shot down by the city Buildings Department last year, but the developers got the green light on Wednesday after reducing the proposed structure from four stories to three.
But residents who oppose the mosque said they’re not giving up.
“We’re going to keep fighting it,” said Alex Tenenbaum, spokesman for Bay People, which has raised money for a legal fight and has held demonstrations at the Voorhies Ave. site. “We will keep opposing the project for the same reasons we opposed it from the very beginning.”
Tenenbaum said the group will battle the mosque on quality-of-life issues, charging that it will cause too much traffic and noise on the residential block between E. 28th and E. 29th Sts.
Tenenbaum insisted the group is not anti-Islamic. But Bay People held several raucous rallies outside the currently vacant site that drew protesters who claimed the mosque could be a planned base for terrorism.
The mosque’s developers have said the neighborhood’s Muslim families need a place to worship close to their homes.
They have also promised to be considerate of neighbors by not broadcasting a call to prayer five times a day. They say that any traffic increase will be minimal.
“We recognize their concerns,” said Ibrahim Anse, 28, an architect behind the plans who will become a member of the mosque. “But our rights have to be recognized, too.
“We’ve been disappointed by the debate,” said Anse. “The call to prayer will not be broadcast outside …[and] you’ll see a very small amount of increase in traffic. It’s not a big deal.”
He said that the opponents didn’t accept an invitation to meet with the mosque’s supporters this year. “We basically gave up after that,” Anse said.
Construction will begin in several weeks and last about a year, Anse said. The prayer hall will hold 120 to 150 people. Plans also call for classrooms and a library on the top floor that will be available for the public to use.
The public fight over the mosque was ugly for much of the year, but Community Board 15 Chairwoman Theresa Scavo said it’s died down recently.
“Once the project starts, maybe the [opponents] will walk away and everything will be peaceful,” Scavo said.
(Source: NY Daily News)