Nonprofit plans to build mosque on Ga. Highway 162 in Newton County

A mosque and cemetery are planned for a 135-acre tract of undeveloped land on Ga. Highway 162 south of Porterdale. Plans also call for a school and housing on the property. (Staff Photo: Alice Queen)

COVINGTON — A Doraville nonprofit organization has plans to develop a mosque and cemetery on an open tract of land off Ga. Highway 162 south of Porterdale. Future plans for the property call for a school and a residential neighborhood.

Al Maad Al Islami Inc. has received administrative approval for construction of a place of worship, to be called Avery Community Church, on 135.168 acres located across Highway 162 from Avery Place subdivision. The property, located at the northwest intersection of County Line Road and Highway 162, is zoned agricultural residential and no rezoning is needed for construction of the house of worship or the cemetery.

“A place of worship is allowed in all zoning districts with an approved administrative use permit showing the property can meet the provisions of Sec. 510-480 of the Newton County Zoning Ordinance,” said Judy T. Johnson, zoning administrator for Newton County Development Services. Johnson said the cemetery is also a permitted use on the property.

Al Maad Al Islami purchased the property, which is comprised of two tracts, from Neely Farms Family Limited Partnership in August 2015 for about $1.3 million. The organization already owns a mosque and school on Woodwin Road in Doraville.

Preliminary conceptual plans for the project show 5 acres set aside for the mosque and another 10.5 acres allocated for the cemetery and a burial preparation accessory facility. The plan includes an additional 15 acres for future cemetery expansion, 28 acres for a future school operated by the church, 21 acres for residential uses, and 4.8 acres for open space.

A letter of intent from Neely Farms Family dated May 28, 2015, outlines plans for the property. According to the letter, the site plan “reflects a future school site for a church operated school when the church is strong enough to accommodate such an addition.”

A conditional use permit will be required in order for the church to open a school.

The letter of intent further states that “initial access to the church site will be from County Line Road. At such time as the church is able to expand operations, a curb cut will be sought from the Georgia Department of Transportation for access onto Ga. Highway 162.”

The letter also stipulates that 50-foot buffers will be put in place along all property boundaries and all active recreation fields will be at least 100 feet from any boundary line.

Calls to Al Maad Al Islami seeking information on the project were not returned Tuesday. However, Paul Oglesby with Georgia Civil, an engineering firm in Madison, said the project is in the construction drawing phase. He said it typically takes about six months to get all permits in place, and he expected construction would begin at about that time.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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