BAYONNE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The controversy over a Muslim community center in Bayonne, NJ will come to a head Monday night as a local board gathers to vote on whether to approve the proposed project.
A vacant property could be the future home of the Bayonne Muslims. Drawings on the group’s website show what the community center and mosque would look like of the zoning board votes yes tonight.
“I have a feeling it’s going through no matter what they say,” resident Amelia Sisk told CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez. “I don’t think we have a choice.”
Sisk’s home sits on E. 25th St. off of Avenue F, directly behind the proposed Muslim community center. She says her neighborhood sees little foot and vehicular traffic, but a mosque would change everything.
“There’s going to be a lot of noise,” she fears.
One man is concerned that the additional people coming in will create parking problems in the neighborhood.
Local pastor Joseph Basile says his concerns go beyond logistics, because he claims the Bayonne Muslims have not been transparent about their religious philosophies.
“When somebody refuses to tell me what they believe in, I get a little antsy about that,” he said.
One resident who asked not to be identified says most of his neighbors have campaigned to stop the Muslim community center by passing out flyers, saying “… each Muslim is attempting to follow and obey their book’s rules, which is to kill, and destroy, and to take over the homes of those who are not Muslim.”
CBS2 reached out to the Bayonne Muslims multiple times but they did not return the calls. The group has been pushing their proposal since August 2015, with the zoning board postponing the vote multiple times over the last year.
“Very optimistic,” supporter Ashraf Asaad said. “50, 45 years in the area — Jersey City, Bayonne — every street, every block you have Muslims. You can’t eliminate people like this. That’s ridiculous.”
Resident Barry Dugan says he hopes the board has an open mind.
“I’m a believer in all religious practicing freely,” he said. “We should embrace every religion. Maybe there’d be less problems in the world if we did.”
With the vote being postponed at least four times already, insiders say there’s a small possibility it still may not make it to a vote Monday.