Mosque in Coolaroo given green light

A MUSLIM mosque has been given the green light to be built next to an Assyrian church in Coolaroo, but objectors have warned it could create a “war zone”.

Police were called to Hume Council’s meeting last night as hundreds of people packed the Broadmeadows council chamber.

Almost 30 speakers voiced their concerns about the controversial proposal at 60-66 Kyabram St, currently an empty block of land next to St Mary’s Ancient Church of the East.

Council received 1144 objections to the application as well as a petition with 43 signatures and a joint letter with 653 signatures.

While many objectors spoke about potential increases to traffic, parking problems and noise, the overarching concern was the unrest it would cause within the community, particularly for Christians who had fled persecution in Iraq.

Most acknowledged they had nothing against a mosque in Hume, or even the same suburb, but not next to their church.

Just two letters were received by council in support of the mosque.

One speaker in favour of the proposal said it would be appropriately located and relieve pressures on existing places of worship.

Councillors voted 8-2 in favour of the mosque.

Mayor Geoff Porter and Cr Alan Bolton voted against.

Cr Jack Ogilvie said council needed to look past the religious elements and make a decision based on planning.

“We’ve heard the logic, we’ve heard the emotion. We can’t listen to … that; we have to look at some of the planning grounds,” he said.

Cr Helen Patsikatheodorou said conditions on the mosque, including daily operating hours of 5am-11pm, would be strict.

But Cr Bolton refused the proposal based on the impact it would have on residents and the area.

“If both places of worship have an event at the same time, I think it would be an actual nightmare to find a car park,” he said.

The decision can be appealed at VCAT.

For more see next week’s Hume Leader.