Henrico approves Short Pump mosque

Posted at 12:05 PM, Jul 26, 2012
and last updated 2012-07-26 12:26:57-04

HENRICO, Va. (WTVR) - Despite some protests from members of the community, the Henrico County Planning Commission approved plans for a new mosque to go up in Short Pump.

The proposed mosque would be built at the intersection of Twin Hickory and Shady Grove Roads near Deep Run High School.

Planning Director Joseph Emerson says the Short Pump area is growing and there is some public concern that adding an over 35,000 square-foot mosque will add to traffic congestion in the area. 

But at the end of the day, the proposed mosque will meet all of the zoning rules.

Members of the West End Islamic Center tell CBS 6 News Henrico has a growing Muslim population looking forward to this mosque being built, however they need to raise between three and four million dollars before they get started.  That could take a couple of years or longer.

Six Short Pump area residents spoke out against the mosque during the Henrico planning meeting.  They joined other groups opposed to two other mosques being built in Henrico; one at Hungary Road and Wiltshire, the other at Hilliard and Impala Drive.  The two would be less than four miles apart.

Those speaking against the Short Pump mosque had mostly the same concerns Sylvia Hoehns-Wright had of the one on Hungary.  Her group had concerns that any worship center or business that big should not be built so close to established neighborhoods and businesses.

Members of the West End Islamic Center were quick to let the Short Pump community know they'll be good neighbors. 

"We are thankful for the county for cooperating with us," said Kamran Nazir. "We plan to work with the community in the Twin Hickory area.  We look forward to getting to know more about each other and bringing the community together.”

The planning commission is the final approval authority; however Mr. Emmerson has yet to review the Short Pump mosque's landscaping plan.  He says the county will work with the builders to do what they call "soften the structure", meaning they’ll blend into the existing neighborhood well.