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Rutherford County Planning Commission Mulls Mosque Vote

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is nearly complete.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn (AP/WMOT) — Rutherford County Planning Commission members are considering whether to schedule a new vote on construction of the Murfreesboro Mosque.

The county's appeal of the court ruling that prohibits occupancy of the nearly finished worship center would still go forward.

Rutherford County Regional Planning Commissioner Mike Kusch sought a lawyer's advice on the issue during a meeting Monday. Kusch says the lawyer told members the board is free to revisit the matter any time as long as public notice is adequate.

“If that appeals process takes too long - which it very well could, it could be over a year – then what does the mosque do in the meantime when their building is finished and they do not have an occupancy permit? My hope would be that we could somehow expedite the ability for them to move into their building.”

Commissioner Kusch went on to say that he hopes the Mosque’s leadership will weigh in on the issue.

“One of the things I think really is that at the Planning Commission we are waiting for at this point in time is a little guidance back from the ICM. They are the ones that are kind’a held hostage on this and we need to see from this or hear from them what they would really like for us to do.”

Mosque spokesman Saleh Sbenaty reacted to Commissioner Kusch’s comments Wednesday morning. He expressed appreciation for the board’s concern, but says he doesn’t believe it would be wise for the Mosque to voice an opinion on the issue.

“ICM, at this time, believes that if we are going to ask the commissioners to re-approve the permit, this is basically saying that we agree with the ruling and that we feel that we are not discriminated against, which we don’t believe is true.”

Sbenaty says Mosque leadership may consult with their own lawyer to see if there’s another way the Muslim community in Murfreesboro might gain permission to occupy their new facility.