NORWALK, Conn. (WTNH/AP) — Nearly 500 people packed a Norwalk Zoning Commission meeting to weigh in on plans for a 27,000-square-foot mosque.
Neighbors say they are concerned about traffic and parking issues, not religion, should a mosque be built on Fillow Street.
"We are worried about traffic, parking and safety. We are worried the religious building will generate a lot more traffic than this area normally sees," said Edmund Ryan who is on the executive board for Fillow Ridge.
Hussein Qadri of Al Madany Islamic Center Board of Directors says members just want a home. For 27 years they have been praying in a basement and more recently rented space at a local church where they could pray.
"It is about time we have a home of our own so we have the hope and the trust and the faith in the commissioners," he said.
Local resident and Al Madany member Suhail Kadri says his congregation has been waiting more than four decades to have its own place of worship.
Planning and zoning commissioners are now considering the 435-seat mosque. There is a public hearing scheduled for Wednesday, April 11.
Neighbors say the mosque will sit on an already busy road that neighbors say has a dangerous intersection. They claim the area can't handle hundreds of more cars.
"I don't care weather it is a mosque," said resident Bob Caserta. "I'm a golfer, they could put a big golf shop here and I would still be opposed. That property for what they are going it does not, they're crazy"
The mosque says it will hire off duty police officers to help traffic flow, adding they respect and are responding to neighbors concerns.
"As long as they have concerns, we are open come talk to us," Qadri said. "We are willing to listen to you and we have modified on our plans."
A local rabbi, Ron Fish, welcomed the mosque and said any traffic and parking problems could be addressed.
Neighbors plan to make their case at the hearing next week.