Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Islamic Mosque at Antioch Belle Forge Theater?

After reading the information below, I would like to hear from you. What are your thoughts? I am not sure if Councilmember Robert Duvall, where the site of the Islamic Center is proposed, is planning a meeting as it is in his district and is a matter of great interest.



I received an email May 15 from a gentleman in District 29 that asked me about whether I knew that an Islamic Mosque was in the works at the Antioch Belle Forge Theater. He was very concerned about the mosque being placed at this location. He provided the website that indicated such mosque was being planned at this location The acronym ICT is the Islamic Center of Tennessee.

Believing that the location was in Councilmember Sam Coleman’s district, I contacted him shortly thereafter to see if he knew anything about it. He promised that we would investigate and get back with me. During that time, it was quite ironic that Williamson and Rutherford counties were in the news daily for a similar issue. Nevertheless, prior to start of a recent council meeting, I asked Councilmember Coleman about what he had learned. First, he stated that the location that I referenced is in fact in Councilmember Robert Duvall’s District 33 and not in his District 32. He stated that he learned of this shortly after talking with me. He went on to share that the property in question has a zoning that allowed for religious use. He did further state that he informed Councilmember Duvall about it and that he was respectfully letting him handle the matter since it was in his district. I agreed.

In checking with Planning, the property carries a Commercial Planned Unit Development (PUD) overlay that allows for the commercial use as well as the religious institution use. Under this zoning, religious type use is allowed. There is also an underlying zoning of AR2 which is Agriculture Residential that also allows for such use as well. I am all too familiar with this type of scenario of this type overlay and underlying zoning that is rarely found today.

Who owns the property?
As of June 28, 2010, the property is still owned by Martin Theatres with an address of Martin Theatres c/o Carmike Theatres, P. O. Box 391, Columbus, Georgia 31902. However, the website advertises a countdown to closing on the property of 42 days. A closing date leaves me to believe that Belle Forge is being purchased by ICT and not leased. ICT has also planned a fundraiser at the Belle Forge location for July 11, 2010 to increase collection from 1.15 million to a goal of 1.55 million. According to the website, it appears that this will be their second fundraiser.

As of June 28, 2010, no application of permits of any type Use and Occupancy permit has not been applied for which is something that will be required. This is something that would be provided by Metro Codes.

So, what are your thoughts about this? Please feel free to leave your comments and be sure to take the poll on the side of the blog regarding this issue.


MSS said...

I personally think that we need to focus on obtaining new businesses and keeping old businesses in this whole area as the first goal that needs to be achieved. Slowly I see businesses closing everyday and that is sad.

Also, I feel that this decision is a bad one because I think this will bring much more gang activity to this area.

Need to look towards what is going to bring people back and feel safe in this community!

Bayview Resident said...

The entire Hickory Hollow area is on the brink of crossing the point of no return, and the road back to prosperity will be long and difficult.

While I agree with the previous commenter that in the long term, we need to focus on bringing new business into this area. I believe that in the short term, we simply need to 'stop the bleeding.' An occupied building is almost always better than a vacant one. The ICTN will have to make a substantial investment in acquiring and re-purposing the building - and we need to make sure that money doesn't go elsewhere. Plus, once they have made this investment, they will be yet another advocate for the revitalization of the whole Hickory Hollow area.

As to making people 'feel safe' and the threat of additional gang activity, I have no knowledge of any correlation between Islamic centers such as this, and increased local crime. Having a well-maintained Islamic center at this location would make most people feel safer than having an abandoned, graffiti-covered theater. If someone has reliable information which shows an increase in crime associated with these centers, I would be interested in seeing it.

concerned resident said...

Please follow up on their funding sources...

vigilant in Antioch said...

London to Antioch said...

Anonymous said...

As some have suggested, palcing a school there makes more sense. The students and faculty would attract patronizing of local businesses. It would also provide a much needed boost in the adult education arena for the people that live in that area. Antioch doesn't need another religious building, it needs a a sustainable revenue generating tax paying organization. None of which apply to a mosque being built there.