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Group seeks permission from Babylon Town to turn a Deer Park house into a mosque

An Islamic group is seeking permission from Babylon Town to turn a Deer Park private home into a mosque.

The application was submitted in June by the Islamic Center of Deer Park for a property on Grand Boulevard between Carlls Path and Sharon Lane. The group is requesting permission to convert the residence into a house of worship. As part of this request, the center is seeking to construct a 16-foot-4-inch by 45-foot-11-inch front addition and two 8-foot-by-6-foot covered entryways. It also wants to remove an existing illegal second floor entrance and landing with outside stairs.

Places of worship are permitted under the town's Residence B zoning code and there are no variances needed for the application, according to the town's planning board. There are more than two dozen mosques across Long Island, from New Hyde Park to Center Moriches, with some established more than 30 years ago.

At a public hearing on Monday, Tahir Qureshi, an engineer for Long Island Engineering and Architecture in Mount Sinai, said the new mosque would be available during five prayer services from before sunrise to nighttime. Those prayers last five to 10 minutes, he said, and would likely consist of 10 to 15 people at most since many Muslims pray at home or at mosques closer to their workplace. There are only two times a year when there would be holiday services with a larger number of people, he said.

Several neighbors of the property voiced concerns about the proposed mosque.

Glen Annarumma, who lives directly behind the site, questioned the safety and traffic impact, equating the mosque to "putting a commercial property" up against backyards.

"Our concerns are quality of life," he said. "It has nothing to do with religion. . . . as of right now they're very quiet but obviously they're looking to grow."

Imam Mohammad Aziz, who lives next door to the property and is a leader of the group, said they wanted to open a mosque because of the need they saw in the community. He said he understands his neighbors' concerns.

"These are common quality-of-life issues," he said. "Those are my concerns as well and we do pay attention to them to be a good neighbor."

Planning board chairman Lev Brickman said the application's record will remain open to comments until June 1.

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