We do not hesitate to criticize the Prince William Board of County Supervisors when we think it has gone astray. It is therefore only fair to give the supervisors credit when we think they got something right.
And when it comes to the request from the Dar Al-Noor Community Center to expand its mosque on Hoadly Road, the board got it right.
Although the community debate around the mosque’s expansion may have been unnecessarily contentious – and no meeting should last until 4 o’clock in the morning – the mosque has a well-conceived plan and has taken significant steps to ensure its growth has minimal impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
The mosque’s expansion is ambitious – going from about 12,000 square feet to 88,000 – but will enhance the quality of life for the many residents in our community who worship there and provide new opportunities for schooling and other services. In addition, for years the mosque has been a tremendous community partner – holding, sponsoring and supporting events and other efforts that benefit not just its members but the community at large.
In fact, when InsideNoVa needed a venue for a political debate several years ago, the mosque not only threw open its doors, but went above and beyond – ensuring everyone felt welcome and even providing an unexpected dinner for attendees.
Prince William has numerous “mega-churches” throughout the county, and, yes, when their services begin and end they often generate a heavy stream of traffic. But like many of those other religious institutions, Dar Al-Noor has a plan to deal with traffic, including hiring police officers. Just like concerts at Jiffy Lube Live and high school football games on Friday nights (in normal times, of course), religious services add to the quality of life that our county has to offer current and prospective residents. A surge of traffic a few times a week is a small price to pay.
We also note that Dar Al-Noor is located on a large plot of land, on a four-lane divided road, just a stone’s throw from a shopping center with a Harris Teeter grocery store that generates lots of traffic seven days a week. It’s not tucked inside a neighborhood or stuck on some dangerous, winding two-lane country road.
No matter how much you like something, everyone needs an editor, and Dar Al-Noor’s plan received serious scrutiny from the community, the planning commission and the board. That scrutiny resulted in better solutions to deal with some of the concerns, including providing time to evaluate whether installing a traffic light on Hoadly would be feasible.
Finally, in a time when every contentious vote on the current board seems to be split 5-3 along party lines, it was a delight to see the Dar Al-Noor plan approved unanimously. We trust Dar Al-Noor to continue to work with its neighbors and look forward to watching it grow.