Henrico woman files appeal to reopen mosque debate

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 08, 2012
and last updated 2012-06-08 20:46:27-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Plans are underway to build as many as three mosques in Henrico County because of Central Virginia's growing Muslim community.

But county leaders might change their minds after a group of citizens filed an appeal over concerns about the size of one of the worship centers.

Sylvia Hoehns-Wright has filed an appeal against Henrico County's decision to let the Islamic Center of Richmond built a new mosque in the 8000 block of Hungary Road.

"We've already experienced the more than 100 vehicles," she said. "We're already experienced the overflow into the surrounding communities.”

Hoehns-Wright said she doesn't want the 31000-square-foot mosque near her Henrico home.

"From what I've seen advertised on their website, there will be times when their events offered at this site that other mosques are not offering,” said Hoehns-Wright. "So, in effect you could pull in people from the greater Richmond area for those particular events."

Days after the group broke ground on the new mosque, county leaders agreed to hear Wright's appeal to scale back the project. As a result, the Henrico County Board of Supervisors will hear the appeal at its June 12 meeting at 7 p.m. 

However, Hoehns-Wright insists the issue is not a cultural or religious one, but about the location of the mosque.

"This is the suburbs. We live here for the fact that we want to have a somewhat rural community," said Hoehns-Wright.

However, one Muslim worshiper said the fight is political because he believes some people just do not want to share the space or resources with others.

"If the zoning and everything else is approved by the county, there's no reason to have a hold on it or anything else -- because the paper work states everything is done the correct way,” said Bassam Abed.

An Islamic Center of Richmond spokesperson told CBS 6 News' Sandra Jones that he is not concerned about the appeal.