Talent planners approve mosque construction

A Rogue Valley Muslim organization has purchased a lot and gained approval to build a mosque in Talent. A beginning construction date is uncertain.

"We will collect all the money first and then do the construction," said Magdy Zacky, director and president of Masjid Al Tawheed. "It depends on the donations. That's how fast we can expand."

The congregation currently holds services in leased space in Phoenix, at 730 N. Main St., the former Nim's store, which they have used since 2007. But owners of that location have chosen to demolish the building and redevelop the site when work begins to improve Fern Valley Road as part of the Exit 24 rebuild project slated to start in 2013. (Clarification: This story has been updated to reflect plans for the Nim's store.)

The Talent Planning Commission gave approval for a 2,100-square-foot building on a .35-acre lot in the 400 block of Highway 99, just south of Jim's Better Buys car dealership. Houses of worship are allowed under the area's zoning.

Besides a prayer hall, the facility will include an office, kitchen and multi-purpose room. Other uses listed for the facility include weekly study circles, monthly potlucks and two holiday events per year. The mosque will be situated to allow for future expansion.

The center currently holds only a Friday Jum'a prayer service between 1 and 2 p.m. Both men and women attend, although the prayer service is not required for women, Zacky said. Between 10 and 20 people attend the services, he said.

"We are just looking for the surveyors and all of that, and some money," said Zacky, "(The lot) was the right price and close by from Phoenix. Most of the people are from Medford and Ashland and between both."

As the only prayer center in a 150-mile radius, the group serves Muslims from Roseburg to Yreka and the coast to Klamath Falls. Islamic students from Southern Oregon University also attend the services.

"Nobody comes from far distances," said Zacky. "If someone is traveling, they stop by."

While the lot fronts Highway 99, vehicle access will be from Everett Street to the east under city policies and Oregon Department of Transportation requirements.

One resident of Everett Street recommended denial of the application, claiming there would not be enough parking and that it would generate non-resident traffic.

— Tony Boom

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