City delays decision on proposed Muslim community center

BAYONNE, N.J. (AP) — A northern New Jersey city delayed its decision on the fate of an Islamic community center after a three-and-a-half-hour public hearing on Tuesday night.

Dozens of demonstrators from both sides gathered with signs outside Bayonne city hall before the zoning board meeting and more than 200 people flooded into the building.

The board delayed its decision since two expert witnesses were not able to finish their testimonies by the end of the meeting.

Waheed Akbar, secretary of the Muslim nonprofit that wants to convert a warehouse into the community center, said he is disappointed by the postponement.

"I was hoping we would have some kind of a result ... but there was no vote," Akbar told NJ.com. "I think it went well. There were some legitimate questions ... and we were able to address most of those questions."

Opponents have said they're concerned about increased traffic and the lack of parking space in the city, and say religion has nothing to do with their stance.

"It's too bad that people have to relegate this to calling other people racist because it's not a racist issue," opponent Bill Darrah told WYNC-AM. "There's not enough room for any mosque."

The next hearing is scheduled for March 14.


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