Henrico Mosque investors now seek designs, funding

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – It took years for Henrico's government to give its approval, but now we're learning that it could take even longer for a controversial mosque to become a reality.

Tuesday night's 5-0 vote by the Henrico Board of Supervisors in favor of the mosque suggests there wasn't much doubt it would be approved. Plans call for it to be built in a vacant, wooded lot on Impala Drive, just north of Hilliard Road.

Now it just has to be paid for.

"So it's gonna take a lot of money to do that," said Dr. Majid Khan, an investor in the project.

What doesn't come from loans, he says, will have to come from fundraisers and private donations.

"From the community. From all the people living in Henrico, or across the river in Chesterfield, from the metro-Richmond area," Khan said.

The mosque will serve a growing Muslim community in Henrico County, estimated to be 4,000 people strong. Many currently worship in rented hotel space or at the Islamic Center of Virginia, several miles away in Bon Air.

The cost of the new mosque isn't immediately clear, but if it looks anything like the one in Bon Air, it won't be cheap.

"The local neighbors will have to do fundraising dinners and that kind of thing and gather their funds," said Ammar Amonette, Imam of the Islamic Center of Virginia.

In an interview last week, Amonette told us what the investors already know.

"Everything in the Muslim community is funded locally and privately. There's no national organization that  funds those things," he said.

As a result, even by conservative estimates, Khan expects the timetable for the new mosque to measured in years, not months.

"A year or more is a good estimate," Khan said, adding, "No matter how good planning you do, there are things that we forget, which delays."

The next step belongs to the investors. But it remains unclear just how long they expect to be  raising money. The permitting and construction processes will also take considerable time.

Tuesday night, neighbors who live near the site raised concerns about traffic. The county's traffic engineer gave assurances that the existing roads can handle extra vehicles.

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