Residents concerns at Carlton mosque plan

Residents have presented a 3000 objections to Georges River Council over plans for a mosque in Botany Street, Carlton.

The proposal by Hurstville Community Centre Incorporated is to convert an existing residential aged care facility at 80-90 Botany Road into a mosque able to hold up to 120 people and to operate 5am to 10.30pm seven days a week.

An adjoining house at 92 Carlton Street would be demolished for car parking.

'There is a shortage of Muslim places of worship in the Carlton area, and the proposed mosque provides a much-needed facility for the local Muslim community to undertake religious practice, the DA's Statement of Einvironmental Effects said.

The mosque would encourage integration and diversity, the SEE stated. In addition, the mosque would welcome members of the broader community to engage with the local Muslim community.

Residents are objecting on the grounds of noise, hours of operation, traffic and amenity of the area.

"We do not raise these objections on the ground of race or religion," Georges River Association president Benjamin Wang said.

"Our arguments revolve around technical issues that point to the Public Place of worship (Mosque) being in an inappropriate location and not in the community interest," he said.

The development would include separate male and female worship rooms and community rooms, a kichenettee, administration office, one-bedroom short-stay accommodation for visiting clerics, a reading room and library and 21 car spaces..

"It is expected that the proposed facility will have a typical capacity of 20 people with a maximum capacity of 120 people during peak periods.

"The hours of operation are proposed to be between 5:30am and 10pm seven days a week. During the period of 5:30am to 7:00am and after 6pm, additional noise mitigation measures will be enforced," the SEE said.

Mr Wang said in excess of 3,000 individual objections have been submitted to council either electronically or personally signed.

These include objections from families of children who have lost their lives in traffic accidents on the street or in surrounding streets, he said.

The most recent of these was last September when a Sydney Boys High School student was killed when hit by a car outside Hurstville Public School. It is believed that the mother of the student has written to the counccil objecting to the mosque.

"Concerns have centred on inadequate parking to accommodate the deliberate understatement by the developer of numbers that would attend the Public Place of Worship (Mosque)," Mr Wang said.

"Technical reports accompanying the development application have conflicting numbers stating that we can anticipate anywhere from 20-120 worshippers at the site.

"Our technical reports indicate that this is a gross understatement and the more accurate figure being approximately double which is evident at mosques of similar size."

Mr Wang said there are five local schools as well as child care centres in the immediate vicinity of the development site.

"Residents are also alarmed by the increased traffic that this will generate given that the intersection at the proposed site is already congested during morning and afternoon school runs and school events.

"We have already had three deaths in the local streets with one on the immediate corner of the site," he said.

"The development application requested daily hours of operation from 5:30am to 10:30pm have also been deemed as unreasonable and contribute to loss of amenity, given the impact the noise of cars running, car doors closing, headlights and people congestion will have during early mornings and late nights.

"The residents commissioned acoustic report clearly outlines these issues and the omission of this from the development application. These operating hours will obviously increase during celebrations and festivals like Ramadan and Eid."

Mr Wang said residents are also concerned that the DA will be decided by the Local Planning Panel under COVID restrictions which will not allow them to address the panel directly with their concerns.

The panel deferred the DA hearing in February but residents have been unable to find a date that it will be heard.

"Numerous attempts to elicit this information have been unsuccessful. The applicant has been advised of deferral however no communication has been forthcoming to us even though we lodged a formal objection and request in writing.

"We have requested a deferral of the LPP meeting to ensure that all members of our community are heard as the technology required to support a virtual process is not available to many vulnerable members of our community, namely the elderly and those without access to the hardware required to access these options."

In conclusion the SEE said the the proposed use is the proposed use is permissible with consent in the R2 Low density residential zoning.

Traffic and noise levels would not have an impact on the area under the mosque's Plan of Management, the SEE stated.

"In addition, the proposal will have positive social outcomes for the Muslim community by providing a Place of Public Worship and for the community - a facility that is not currently available in the area.

"This will encourage integration and diversity in the broader community. It is also intended that the proposed facility provide opportunities to welcome members of the broader community to engage with the local Muslim community."

The developer declined to comment.

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