Proposed mosque has some Windermere residents concerned

WINDERMERE, Fla. — Some Windermere families are fighting a landowner who plans to build a mosque near their homes.

Tensions flared during a meeting Wednesday night inside Sunset Elementary School to discuss residents’ concerns about plans to build the Windermere Religious Center on Winter Garden Vineland Road.

Some families said they have several concerns if county leaders approve a zone change so the landowner can build the mosque.

Thoe opposed to the mosque said they’re worried that if the mosque does get approved, it will bring about more traffic and noise.

"We have enough trouble with the First Baptist Church that is right behind us. They went and said it was going to be nice and quiet and everything like that,” Rural Ranch Estates President Garold Rennells said.

An application for the project hasn’t been submitted to the county yet, but residents are still worried.

Religion crept into the conversation over the plans.

“Some people were very clear and precise with not wanting out religion there,” said Rasha Mubarak. “Then, there were come indirect accusations of what Islam and what mosques have, but maybe in the same token, people tend to be fearful of what they are not familiar with.”

Most of the questions asked at the meeting focused on the impact the mosque would have on the neighborhood.

“I don’t have a concern really about the mosque. My concern is the zoning, and we have zoning for a reason, but I do understand that they have a process and I believe in that process,” said resident Art Enos.

Some voiced concerns about the noise during prayer times, in which it is broadcast over a loud speaker, but that would not happen for the planned mosque.

“It’s only in the inside, so there are some things that people are worried about, but hopefully it’s not an issue,” said Iqbal Gagan. “I think of you go visit other mosques, I think it would make it more clear.”

The owner of the land is donating it to the mosque and said he is trying to give back to the community. He hopes to address everyone’s concerns as the process moves forward.