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Hearing for proposed Harford County mosque draws standing room only crowd

Posted at 5:56 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 18:22:54-05

CRESWELL, Md. — It was standing room only at Harford County Council chambers Wednesday morning. Up for discussion, the review of plans to build a mosque in the Creswell area near Route 543 and Nova Scotia Road.

Unlike hateful and ignorant rhetoric posted on social media sites earlier in the week regarding the project, people in attendance denounced the commenced.

“They do not reflect the Harford County community that many of us know and love,” said Kurt Umbarger.

The primary focus of the meeting centered around traffic concerns.

For more than two hours concerned individuals brought their prepared statements to members of the Harford County Development Advisory Committee.

Some who spoke live in the Quail Creek Court community, a residential neighborhood that backs right up to the proposed mosque.

“I’m totally against this project,” said Craig Miceli. "Especially the accessing point from our street.”

The nonprofit Harford Islamic Center previously submitted plans to the county to subdivide a nearly 12-acre lot of a larger 51-acre property at 2215 Crewswell Road. The organization said it plans to convert buildings on the site into a 60-seat house of worship.

A proposed point of entry is off Quail Creek Court.

Some residents asked why the DAC would allow for a house of worship to construct a driveway in and out of a residential neighborhood.

“I don’t understand why a consideration of a financial issue, which is not part of the developmental process, would be allowed,” expressed Richard McGill. “Why allow their financial issues and put pressure on the neighborhood?”

Planning officials said financial hardship was not taken into consideration, rather the driveway was what was submitted by developers.

There were also people who spoke in support of the mosque, including Faras Aamir.

“I think today was a very positive experience,” he said. “I think it was an opportunity for all Muslims to hear what the concerns of others are.”

Aamir said he was excited for the new mosque, stating he and others of his faith would finally have a place to congregate.

“Since I was a little kid we’ve been going to garages and office buildings and people’s basements just to have a place to pray,” he said.

The mosque’s opening is still in the planning stages.

A mosque official told WMAR-2 News service is anywhere from seven to eight months away.

On top of planning, county officials said during Wednesday’s hearing they still need more paperwork from HIC.

“Four structures are indicated on proposed Lot 16,” said Leonard Walinksi with the Howard County Health Department. “The consultant must state what type of structures they are and the purpose of the structures and if they will be serviced by a well and septic tank.”

As for the proposed driveway, lawyers for Harford Islamic Center said the organization has the right to construct it.

“This process is still ongoing,” said lawyer Robert Lynch. “It still means involvement with the community to make sure the end result is a product of the project that makes sense for both my clients and works for the community.”