BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — A plan for a new mosque to be built on a 12-acre site in rural Harford County has drawn concern from some area residents.

A development advisory committee meeting Wednesday drew a crowd of several dozen residents both in favor of and opposed to the mosque proposal.

The 60-seat mosque would use existing structures on the property, primarily a barn, to develop its worship center in the 2200 block of Creswell Road.

Plans call for a barn and other buildings to be converted into a 60-seat mosque in rural Harford County, according to documents submitted to the county’s Development Advisory Committee.

Many of those who spoke at the meeting expressed concerns about the increased traffic the proposed mosque could bring. The project also attracted condemnation and even threats on social media.

Despite that, the non-profit Harford Islamic Center said it has no plans to back down from the project.

“We need a place, a safe haven for us to practice, freedom basically to practice our religion, said Hasan Shan, a member of the center.

Debbie Umbarder lives near the proposed site and said opposition isn’t about religious tolerance.

“This is absolutely not about race, this is not about religion, this is not about color,” she said. This is about our community; it’s about transparency in our community.”

Drone video shows the site of a proposed 60-seat mosque in rural Harford County. Credit: Hasan Shah

Phillip Snarski said he assumes the site would attract between double and quadruple the amount of traffic in the area, which would affect residents who walk on the road, which has no sidewalks.

“It definitely causes a personal safety issue for us,” he said.

One resident who spoke at the meeting expressed concern about Sharia law.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on over that that’s really bad and I don’t want that stuff coming to Harford County,” he said.

Area resident Khalid Aslam said he just wants a place to worship.

“We are your doctors, you guys come to us, we treat you guys so please just love us and we love you,” he said.

The committee asked the center for more details about the project. Once it meets all the requirements, the committee will review the proposal again.

Annie Rose Ramos

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