Proposed San Martin mosque, Islamic center causes concern for neighbors

Bay Area

SAN MARTIN (KRON) — Members of the South Valley Islamic Community have been worshipping in a small barn for years and now they want to build a new mosque and community center on Monterey Road in San Martin.

Some of the neighbors say the project is too big and not a good fit for the small, rural community. Longtime resident Mohammed Hussain dreams of the day when he can worship at a new 9,000 square foot mosque proposed for a 15 acre site just west of Monterey Road in San Martin.

“It is emotional, very emotional. Finally I can see the building outlined, how it’s going to look,” Hussain said.

The flags represent storylines for the project, which would also include a 14,000 square foot community center.

The project is almost three times as big as plans that were brought to a halt years ago by a lawsuit that demanded a full environmental review, which has since been done, says the center’s Noshaba Afzal.

“That EIR has come back with no significant impact to traffic, ground water and any of the concerns,” she said.

What would be the largest development here in 15 years, the proposed Cordoba Center would also include a plaza, caretaker’s residence and a cemetery.

As many as 300 people might attend regular events here but there is opposition from neighbors who believe the project is way too big and not a good fit for rural San Martin.

“We have plenty of little churches and we are happy to have plenty of little churches, but they need to be little churches. This isn’t just a worshipping center, it’s an entire campus,” said one neighbor.

Several postings on next door suggest a small but more vocal opposition is motivated by Islamophobia. “Around town, we don’t sense that. Around town, we have wonderful neighbors and a great community we interact with. I think that small, vocal group is giving this rural community a bad name,” said Afzal.

For now, South Valley Muslims worship in a barn owned by Hussain, a Vietnam veteran.

He says they need a bigger place to worship and that San Martin is their home.

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