Mailer about proposed mosque in Mukilteo draws scrutiny

MUKILTEO — Many residents have opened their mailboxes over the weekend to find an anonymous postcard alerting them to plans for construction of a mosque.

Plans for the mosque, the Islamic Center of Mukilteo, have been under way for several years and are now being reviewed by the city’s planning department.

The mailing has come under scrutiny for not including the name of an individual or group that sent it out.

“If you would like to receive notifications about the mosque as information becomes available, send an e-mail to mukilteostaysafe@gmail.com,” it says.

An email request by The Herald to contact the individual or group was not answered.

It also includes the phone number for city hall “if you have concerns, questions or want to view the application.”

Glen Pickus, the city’s planning manager, said he didn’t know of any other planning application that has triggered a citywide mailing by an individual or noncity organization.

Mohammed Riaz Khan, one of the supporters of the mosque, said he received one of the postcards at his home over the weekend. “We expected it,” he said of opposition to the project.

Khan said he and others supporting the opening of the mosque are following city code and “the law of the land.”

If people have questions, “we can answer them,” he said. “I know there are only a few people against it.”

He said some neighbors stopped by his home Monday morning. “I’m getting a lot of support,” Khan said. He said they were unhappy with the mailing asking, “What’s going on?”

Khan said there are no plans for an outdoor sound system to broadcast a call to prayer.

He said he hopes construction on the mosque can start soon. “We’ll clear up the doubts,” Khan said.

Khan’s support of the project is so well known locally that when he ran for City Council last year, some voters greeted him by saying: “Hey, you’re the mosque guy.”

Last year, Khan and mosque backers organized a Community Day at Harbour Pointe Middle School to bring together people of all faiths and provide opportunities to tour the site of the planned mosque.

Plans submitted to the city call for a 3,796-square-foot, two-story building at 3920 Harbour Point Blvd. with space for a prayer area, multi-purpose room, two small offices, a kitchen, bathrooms and two classrooms, Pickus said.

The city is waiting for the group to submit a revised wetland report on the property, Pickus said. If the project proceeds, a public hearing will be scheduled to discuss the wetland issue, he said.

Pickus said he had received “numerous calls” Monday about the issue.

Myron Travis, a crime prevention officer with the city’s police department, said that whoever sent out information about the project was within their constitutional rights. “It’s nothing we’re investigating at this time,” he said.

Mukilteo Mayor Jennifer Gregerson said it’s not unusual for people to be passionate about development proposals. “This is a normal land use development proposal,” she said. “There is an opportunity for feedback on the potential impact to wetlands on the site.”

Bob Champion, City Council president, said based on conversations with residents, opposition to the mosque is limited. Backers of the mosque “have every right to move forward and practice the religion they believe in,” he said.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

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