Mosque given go-ahead by Sammamish
By KEVIN ENDEJAN
Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor
September 20, 2012 · Updated 1:37 PM
After nearly two years of waiting, the Sammamish Muslim Association received approval from the City of Sammamish to go ahead with the conversion of a 2,900-foot home into a prayer center with 44 parking spaces just north of Pine Lake.
The transformation of the single-family home, located in the 22000 block of Southeast 20th Street, has been a hotly debated topic among neighbors, many of whom are a part of the group, “Friends of SE 20th.”
Among concerns, neighbors cited issues with overflow parking, pedestrian needs, the outfall of a stormwater retention pond and wildlife. More than 500 letters of concern were received by the city.
“We believe the city made the right decision taking all the neighbors’ concerns and comments into consideration,” said Wassim Fayed, a member of the mosque’s board of trustees. “Give us a chance and you will see we are indeed good neighbors.”
In its approval, the city tried to ease community concerns, noting the facility is not much different than other religious institutions in similar neighborhoods throughout Sammamish.
Fayed noted the conversion would allow members to practice Friday noon and Ramadan prayers on site. Currently, the major challenge is that they are unable to perform those prayers on site, instead being forced to larger locations. It would also open up community events, like weddings.
“We are no longer bound by the maximum eight cars allowed on site,” Fayed said. “If one day we have 12 cars, we no longer feel we have to ask folks to go back home and that they cannot worship on site.”
He said, however, these larger events are rare as the mosque only has five to eight families who attend regularly.
Opponents have a deadline of Sept. 27 to appeal the decision to the hearing examiner.
Fayed hopes it doesn’t come to that.
“We are residents of Sammamish and we are indeed friends of SE 20th,” he said. “We want to keep Sammamish beautiful and truly make it a place to call home. Our kids go to the same schools as our neighbors and we want to continue to be good citizens. The best thing we can do as a community is to get to know each other. We love Sammamish and we love our neighbors.”
Contact Issaquah Reporter Assistant editor Kevin Endejan at email@example.com or 425-391-0363, ext. 5054.