ST. CLOUD, Minn. -- The Islamic Center of St. Cloud has sat on 5th Avenue South for the last 17 years. But with a growing community, leaders say they must expand.
"Our children need a place where they can learn on Saturday and Sunday. That's our most need at this time," Mohayadan Mohamed, a member of the center said.
Right now all of their activities take place in the same room as prayer. They have proposed a newer, bigger center on Clearwater Road that includes a mosque, school, community center as well as office, retail and restaurant space.
On Tuesday more than 200 people crammed into a planning commission meeting. Some voiced concern, others support. The Islamic center agreed to drop the retail and restaurant addition but the item was still tabled after two hours of debate.
Matt Glaesman is the community development director for the city. His staff supports the mosque but says they need more time.
"We'll be looking at traffic analysis. We'll be looking at noise issue that came up. We'll even be looking pedestrian movement," Glaesman said.
There are 45 mosques in Minnesota, most of them in the Twin Cities.
According to The Council on American-Islamic Relations in the last two years there have been five Muslim projects where neighbors opposed it based on religious prejudice. Four of those were eventually built. Last year the St. Anthony city council rejected a proposal to re-zone for a center. The Department of Justice is still investigation the issue.
However, Mohamed doesn't believe faith is a problem. Instead he believes it's the solution.
"The people we met in the neighborhood are very open minded people," he said.
The planning commission will take up the development at their meeting next month.
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