Concerns over traffic and zoning regulations regarding the construction of a new mosque on Deer Park Avenue in Dix Hills were raised by residents at a meeting this past Thursday at the Half Hollow Hills Community Library.
The United American Muslim Association, which currently occupies a residential building on Deer Park Avenue between Parsons Drive and Tiana Place, two months ago submitted preliminary plans to the Town of Huntington seeking approval to construct a 20,000 square-foot mosque at the same location. In addition, the plans also call for the construction of a dome that would sit atop the rear of the building at a height of 59 feet.
The dome would fit within the town’s height limit for churches at 60 feet, but some residents are asking that the height of the mosque be limited to 35 feet, the restriction for residential buildings. The preliminary plans also include a buffer zone of 12 feet, which was also criticized during the meeting as being too close to the road.
“This is not an objection to a religious facility,” said Anthony Carabba, one of the meeting's organizers. “We’re asking that the town review the plans and make them better to keep neighbors happy.”
Besides the size and height of the structure, concerns regarding parking at the mosque were also raised by those in attendance at the meeting. Initial building plans include a maximum occupancy of 772 people. Town code requires that for every five people, there must be one parking space. Following that statute, the lot plans include 155 parking spaces.
However, residents at the meeting said they are worried that worshipers may end up parking along residential streets since there are often less than five people traveling in each vehicle. Some also expressed concerns about added traffic along Deer Park Avenue and congestion heading toward the Long Island Expressway and Northern State Parkway.
“The traffic situation is very dangerous to everyone; residents and worshipers,” said Gail Jospa, another of the meeting's organizers.
Town spokesperson A.J. Carter said that the town’s planning department is currently researching the preliminary plans to see that all requirements are met. There are no public hearings currently planned for project, however residents are able to voice concerns during public portions of town board meetings.
Carabba stressed that his concerns over the mosque's construction are based only on zoning issues.
“Religious organizations have a right to be here. We think it should be built, but with adjustments,” he said. “No one is objecting to them building this facility. We’re just asking that the town take a second look at the plans.”
Representatives for the United American Muslim Association were not immediately available for comment.