BAYONNE - In anticipation of a large crowd, the Bayonne Zoning Board has moved its January 23 meeting to Nicholas Oresko School on 23 East 24th Street. The board, which will vote on a final major site plan approval for the conversion of a warehouse on East 23rd Street into a new Muslim Community Center, is now being held in the same neighborhood as the planned construction.
Bayonne Muslims, a nonprofit organization, has been renting the basement of St. Henry’s School on Avenue C for community and prayer services for six years.
The group proposed to convert what is currently an unoccupied warehouse on 109 East 24th Street into a community center, including a mosque, classrooms, and a soup kitchen.
The proposed plan has been tabled since a zoning board meeting last January after some protest from Second Ward residents.
At that meeting, opponents of the plan cited concerns about traffic and noise. Residents asked how long and how frequent prayers might be, how much traffic increase they can expect, and whether mosque-goers will be walking through their yards.
In June, a 75-year-old resident was reportedly threatened by a man at her home for displaying a sign that read “Stop the Mosque.” In October, a Bayonne man vandalized the façade outside the entrance to the Muslim Community Center on Avenue C with spray paint, writing hateful and Islamophobic slurs, as reported by the Bayonne Community News. Jonathon Hussey, the man responsible, was sentenced to 12 months probation on January 3. As part of his probation, according to a statement from the Hudson County Clerk, Hussey penned an apology to both the Muslim Community Center and St. Henry’s Church.