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Could new zoning change one community's landscape?

Residents of Cooksville, a rural community about an hour away from Annapolis, are concerned that the development of an Islamic community center could drastically change the way their community looks. Dar-us-Salaam, the Muslim community interested in purchasing the property, says they have outgrown their current facilities. Their plans include building a school and worship center for the close to 800 families they serve.

The site where the Islamic community center may be built is the former home of Woodmont Academy, which closed in 2011. The Woodmont Educational Foundation, Inc. has applied for the Institutional Overlay District, which would allow for the addition of a religious structure if the sale goes through. Under current zoning, conditional uses only allow for the development of a private school and retreat center.

Residents in nearby communities are concerned about the scope of the project and the long-term growth of the community. They are worried that a project of this size could attract other large projects in a community surrounded by farmland.

Those most concerned about the proposed project have formed a group called the Residents for Responsible Development of Woodmont. The group is not entirely opposed to the development plans. The most important thing to concerned residents is that they are allowed to weigh-in on future plans.

It is not clear how this particular case will end. However, both sides may need to compromise in order to come to a resolution. Residents will be updated on the project early next month. Zoning requests will be heard by the county late next month.

Source: The Baltimore Sun, "Woodmont zoning request worries nearby residents," Blair Ames, Feb. 26, 2013

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