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Proposed mosque by Microsoft raises traffic concerns among residents
The possibility of increased traffic and noise are among the reasons a group of Redmond residents are concerned about a mosque being proposed for an empty plot of land near Microsoft.
If approved, Anjuman-e-Burhani Mosque would be located at 15252 N.E. 51st St. It would be two stories with a basement for a total of 22,467 square feet, according to plans from Rolluda Architects, the architecture firm designing the building.
The size of the building, which would sit on about 1.12 acres of land, is one of the things that has residents in the neighborhood most concerned.
“It’s not about the religion,” said Frank Niederle. “It’s about 20,000 square feet. That’s something else. It doesn’t make sense.”
MORE TRAFFIC AND CONGESTION
Niederle and his wife Maria Niederle have lived in their home, which is less than a half mile away from the proposed mosque location, for more than 30 years. They said their neighborhood is full of children who often walk to school and play outside and the Niederles are concerned that an influx of drivers coming and going at the mosque would make it unsafe for them.
Jamie Hilbert — who lives along 156th Avenue Northeast, just a few blocks from the site — is also concerned about traffic safety for children if a new community building is built.
“We don’t want a kid to get hit,” she said.
Hilbert said they already have a lot of traffic from Microsoft, adding that sometimes it can take her up to five minutes to pull out of her driveway if she hits rush hour. The proposed mosque would increase the problem significantly, she said.
Maria Niederle said their neighborhood is not built to accommodate more cars. The entrance to their neighborhood already gets overflow parking from Microsoft, she said, and the mosque would just bring more as the site would not have enough parking to accommodate a building of that size.
According to the architects’ plans, there would be 42 parking stalls.
“(It) is not enough for something like that,” Frank Niederle said.
Maria Niederle added that it should not be their neighborhood’s responsibility to provide parking for the proposed mosque.
Radmila Tatevosyan, who also lives in the neighborhood, said they live in a residential area and she would like to leave it that way.
“Our neighborhood is good because it’s quiet,” she said.
Like the Niederles, Tatevosyan said this is why she is concerned about the mosque coming into the neighborhood.
“Even if it was a Russian church, like my church, I’d still be against it,” she said.
Tatevosyan added that a proposed daycare center for that same plot of land had previously been denied because it would bring too much traffic to the area, so she doesn’t understand how a building as large as the mosque would be approved.
Tatevosyan said if the mosque gets built, she will consider moving out of the neighborhood.
Ali Habib, project manager for the Anjuman-e-Burhani Mosque, said since they purchased the property four years ago, they have worked with the City of Redmond to make sure the project fits “seamlessly within the neighborhood and enhances” it without causing disruptions.
“Many of the concerns outlined, including parking and traffic, have been at the forefront of those discussions,” he said. “We have undertaken efforts to meet and engage our neighbors, including hosting an open house some months back, but there is always more that can be done.”
This includes a community meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. on April 30 in the Redmond Council Chambers at City Hall, 15670 N.E. 85th St.
Habib said the goal is to introduce themselves to the community, answer questions and hopefully alleviate concerns and dispel misconceptions that may exist.
“Good citizenship and neighborliness is at the very core of our community’s identity and we welcome the ongoing dialogue,” he said.
Jeri Rowe-Curtis, chief communications officer for the city, said an application to develop the property has been submitted to the city, but there are no current actions being proposed or taken by City Council on the matter of the mosque at this time — just the community meeting set for the end of the month.