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Objections to mosque delays development

The rezoning approval for the first mosque to be established in Gordon’s Bay was passed last week.

It was met with mixed reaction from the community and an intent to appeal the decision by the Gordon’s Bay Residents’ Association (GBRA).

Cassim Peer of the Gordon’s Bay Islamic Society welcomed the rezoning approval, stating it has been “construction-ready” for months now, and that the final building plan submissions are expected within a few weeks.

“We are hopeful of starting construction of the mosque this year,” he told DistrictMail this week.

More than 100 objections against the development, on the corner of Roos Street and Lancaster Road, is “a small minority”, said Peer.

He added the society has initiated ongoing efforts “to reach out to the community” and welcomes constructive dialogue that will benefit all residents.

“The objections have delayed the mosque’s construction, but we are also committed to following correct procedures and listening to the concerns of our neighbours and friends in Gordon’s Bay,” he related.

GBRA chairperson Edwina Hadfield stated it was never the association’s aim to delay the construction of a mosque.

“The concerns raised by the residents when the first public participation process was posted was constructive and all issues raised have been addressed. We are just looking for clarity on a few of these issues. We will meet with the [Islamic] society for a discussion and our intention is not to delay anything, but ensure all the issues are and have been addressed, and our residents are satisfied,” she said.

“When we objected, a list of concerns was given to council and there are a few we would like clarity on, and maybe better understanding. But these will be discussed with the Islamic society.”

Apart from the rezoning approval, the lowering of the building line from 5 m to 3,5 m was also granted.

Another condition was that provision must be made for 40 cars plus two disabled parking bays, and that no amplified sound will be used for the call to prayer. A traffic survey was completed and submitted to the City of Cape Town’s Traffic Department, with no objections received from the transport department.

“We’ve also been requested to green the area around the mosque, to make it look more aesthetically pleasing and to match the surrounds,” said Peer. “We are more than pleased to do this.”

He added that compared to religious establishments in other, bigger areas the mosque is relatively small, accommodating up to 160 people.

“We believe the mosque will be a source of goodness and harmony for the community,” Peer continued. “All residents are welcome to ask any questions or express any concerns, so we may address this peacefully and move on.”

The current prayer facility is a makeshift one behind a shopping centre and is too small and inadequate, making it difficult for Muslim residents and visitors to the area.

Peer said that, coinciding with any appeal process, the society will continue to submit building plans so further delays are avoided.

Hadfield says the GBRA has, at all times, reached out to the society. “There is no intention of a legal route from the GBRA, but I cannot speak on behalf of residents who are not members of the organisation.”

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