Tuesday night, the Selma Town Council unanimously approved a request by the Jaama Masjid – Muslim Community Center & Social Welfare Organization of Johnston County, Inc. to rezone a tract of land at 1009 River Road in Selma. Jaama Masjid is also known as a “mosque of assembly”.
Dr. Mir Mumtaz Ali introduced himself to the town council as a pulmonologist at Johnston Health and as the Vice President of the Muslim Community Center, which also owns property at 1011 River Road.
Dr. Ali and the community center was also represented by attorney Lew Starling of Smithfield, who was also on hand for the public hearing.
Selma Planning Director Julie Maybee said the applicant had requested the 0.7 acre vacant lot on River Road be rezoning from medium to low density zoning but the applicant did not state a specific reason for the rezoning request on the formal application.
However during his comments to the town council, Dr. Ali said he would like the parcel to become an Islamic cemetery.
In a 3-to-2 vote, the Selma Planning Board had recently recommended the rezoning request be denied citing concern it was not consistent with surrounding land uses.
However, the Selma Town Council voted 5-to-0 on Tuesday night to approve the request finding that the rezoning was consistent with Selma’s current land use plan.
Dr. Ali said several of his patients were in the audience in support of the rezoning. They filled about two rows in the council chambers but they did not speak during the public hearing. No one spoke in opposition of the request.
Selma Town Manager Elton Daniels said if the applicant would like to develop a cemetery they will have to go through the Town’s standard process of obtaining permits and submitting a site plan.