Business owners concerned about proposed Islamic Center cemetery - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Business owners concerned about proposed Islamic Center cemetery

The lot behind the Islamic Center on West Highland Avenue sits empty, but the mosque has proposed using that half-acre lot to build a 123-plot graveyard. (Source: WALB) The lot behind the Islamic Center on West Highland Avenue sits empty, but the mosque has proposed using that half-acre lot to build a 123-plot graveyard. (Source: WALB)
Cemetery location (Google Maps) Cemetery location (Google Maps)
Conny Turner (Source: WALB) Conny Turner (Source: WALB)
B.J. Fletcher (Source: WALB) B.J. Fletcher (Source: WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

The lot behind the Islamic Center on West Highland Avenue sits empty, but the mosque has proposed using that half-acre lot to build a 123-plot graveyard.

Ward 3 Commissioner BJ Fletcher says the proposal has stirred some controversy.

"I think that it was facts versus feelings. I think it was just a lot of people, this is a business district, it's a little older," Fletcher said.

"They did not want a cemetery in the middle of their business district."

Conny Turner is one of those who opposes the cemetery. He's been running Turner's Garage and Body Shop at 313 South McKinley Street for the past 40 years. 

"It ain't what they're doing that I disagree with, it's just where they're trying to do it at that I disagree with," Turner said.

He says the neighborhood is prone to flooding. The city would require the bodies to be buried 6 feet deep and in concrete vaults, but Turner worries that won't be enough to keep water from seeping in and mixing with bodily fluids. 

"You haven't been embalmed, you got waste material, so it could be a cesspool we don't know," he said.

"I know it floods over here, I'm not worrying about them popping up, but I'm just worrying about what's in there, that water once it goes into the ground, whatever is in it, it's coming out."

Fletcher says she's heard a wide range of concerns from those in the neighborhood.

"You talk to 30 people, you're going to get 30 different reasons," she said.

However, she says there's no reason the cemetery can't be built.

"They've followed every guideline there is, and they meet every guide we need and as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to vote to move it forward."

A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday night. Following the hearing, commissioners will vote on the cemetery. If it gets four votes, the Islamic Center will have approval to move forward with its plans.

Copyright 2016 WALB. All rights reserved.

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